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No. 89.] (Ad ClerumJ [Price 2s. 



§ i. Occasion, Grounds, and Limits of the Present Inquiry. 

(1 .) It is curious, and may be not uninstructive, to observe how § i. i. 
from time to time the assailants of Primitive Antiquity have shifted 
their ground, since the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
Durinsj the struggle of the Reformation, men had felt instinct- 
ively, if they did not clearly see, that the Fathers were against 
them, so far as they had begun to rationalize, whether in ecclesi- 
astical practice, or in theological inquiry. But it was many years 
before they ventured to avow this feeling distinctly to themselves, 
much more to maintain and propagate it. It was not until divines 
of his class had thoroughly wearied themselves in vain endeavours 
to reconcile the three first centuries with Calvin and Zuinglius, 
that Daille published his celebrated treatise "Of the Right Use of 
the Fathers ' :" in which, under pretence of impugning their suffi- 
ciency as judges between Papist and Protestant, he has dexterously 
insinuated every topic most likely to impair their general credit ; 
professing all the while extreme respect both for their sanctity 
and their wisdom ; although, perhaps, an attentive reader may 
perceive his ironical meaning, disclosing itself more and more, as 
his argument draws to a point. However, by his skill in rhetorical 
arrangement, and by a certain air of thorough command of his 
subject, which he has been very successful in assuming, he became 
at once the standard author for all who took that side of the 
question ; opening (if so homely a simile may be allowed) a kind 

» In 1631. 

VOL. VI. — 89. B 

g Gradual Diminution of Respect for Antiquity. 

§ i. 1. of cheap shop, to which all who had a fancy for wares of that 
kind have ever since found it convenient to resort. 

But though at the hottom Daille seems to have had no 
more respect for Antiquity than those who came after him, he 
dififers from them greatly, not only in his tone and manner, but 
also in the very ground and substance of his argument : pro- 
fessing, ^r*/, to confine himself to those points which are dis- 
puted between the Reformed and the Roman Church, (and, there- 
fore, not to except against the Fathers' evidence on matters 
debated in their times, e. g. on the Trinitarian Controversy;) and 
secondly, laying, or seeming to lay, the chief stress of his objec- 
tions on the scantiness of their remains, the amount of corrup- 
tion and interpolation, the difficulty of ascertaining their real 
sense, and the like. When he does proceed to challenge their 
authority, he is careful in pointing out their own disclaimers of 
such authority, before he exemplifies their supposed errors and 
inconsistencies ; which he does largely, but with great show of 
unwillingness in the concluding sections of his work. 

But now if we pass over a hundred years, and come to the 
attacks made on the Fathers in the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, we shall find, for the most part, the same quotations ap- 
pealed to, the same particulars insisted on, but with an air of much 
more open defiance, and with the direct and avowed purpose of 
impugning their credit, not in this or that point only, but in all 
questions of Christian religion. Thus Whitby prefaces his collec- 
tion of what he calls specimens of patristical exposition of Scrip- 
ture, with a declaration ^ that he wishes to exclude appeals to 
Antiquity, as to the transmission of the Rule of Faith, (meaning 
the great fundamental doctrines,) no less than in facts of general 
history, or in the controversies between England and Rome. And 
Middleton, in his flippant "Free Inquiry," lays the stress of his 
argument on his being able to prove that the ancient Fathers " were 
of a character from which nothing could be expected but what a 
weak or crafty understanding could supply, towards confirming 
those prejudices with which they happened to be possessed, espe- 
cially where religion was the subject*." 

' Pref. § 2. ed. 1714. ^ Pref. p. xxxii. 

Mysticism, a peculiarly invidious Imputation. 3 

One would think it impossible to go beyond this in the § i- 2. 
way of disparagement ; but so it is, that in the course of the 
century which has elapsed since Whitby and Middleton, a yet 
more disrespectful, because more summary, way of dealing 
with the Fathers has become current. Whitby and Middleton 
did think it necessary to appear to have examined what is really 
to be found in Antiquity ; and the former especially exhibits, 
throughout his treatise above-mentioned, what on his principles 
must be called a morbid anxiety, to confirm his own views on 
several important subjects, (on original sin, for example, and the 
natural condition of infants,) by the testimony of the very writers, 
whom he is most busy in disparaging. But in our day, perhaps, 
the more usual course is, for persons, who do not even pro- 
fess any acquaintance with those writers, beyond vague impres- 
sions received from report or quotation, to dispose of their 
authority in any controverted point, under the notion, understood 
or expressed, that " the Fathers were Mystics, and need not be 
regarded at all." 

(2.) Now, if it were indeed an object with the Evil Spirit, to 
decry the relics of Christian Antiquity, and divert men's attention 
from them, it is difficult to say what single word he could have 
chosen, so critically adapted to his purpose in our days, as this 
same word, Mysticism. In the first place, it is not a hard word, 
having been customarily applied to such writers as Fenelon and 
William Law, whom all parties have generally agreed to praise and 
admire. So far it suits well with the smoothness of phrase, on 
which the present generation especially prides itself. It seems to set 
down the Fathers gently, and so is readily acquiesced in by many, 
who would shrink from the coarse sneers of Middleton or Gibbon. 

In the next place, it touches the very string, which most cer- 
tainly moves contemptuous thought, in those who have imbibed 
the peculiar spirit of our time. Mysticism, implies a sort of 
confusion between physical and moral, visible and spiritual 
agency, most abhorrent to the minds of those, who pique them- 
selves on having thoroughly clear ideas, and on their power of 
distinctly analysing effects into their proper causes, whether in 
matter or in mind. 


4 Meaning of the Charge of Mysticism : 

§ i. 3. Again, Mysticism conveys the notion of something essentially 

and altogether remote from common sense and practical utility : 
but common sense and practical utility are the very idols of this 

Further, that which is stigmatized as Mysticism, is almost 
always something which at once makes itself discerned by internal 
evidence. The man of the world, the practical man, the induc- 
tive experimental philosopher, commonly persuades himself that 
he can perceive by instinct, when a train of thought, or mode of 
speaking, is mere religious dreaming, indistinct fanciful theory : 
and he rejects it accordingly, and is saved all trouble of research. 
Here, again, is no small temptation, in the eyes of a world full of 
hurry and business, to acquiesce over-lightly in any censure of 
that kind. 

Yet, again, if any man be disposed to speak and think more 
harshly of the early Christian writers, this same term. Mysticism, 
may serve his purpose also ; for it is easy by a dexterous enun- 
ciation, or choice of context, to insinuate through it a charge of 
deliberate fraud. It is an instance, therefore, of a mode of 
speaking, equally convenient for all shades and degrees of enmity 
to, or contempt of. Antiquity. We see what its power is in a 
kindred instance ; how meanly even respectable persons allow 
themselves to think of the highest sort of poetry, — that which 
invests all things, great and small, with the noblest of all associ- 
ations, — when once they have come to annex to it the notion of 
Mysticism. And perhaps its mischievous effects on theology are 
as great as any attributable to a sinj^le word. 

(3.) It may, therefore, be of some use to consider as distinctly 
as we can, what people really mean when they charge the Fathers 
with Mysticism ; which being done, we may perhaps have a bet- 
ter chance of making out to our satisfaction, whether, and how far, 
as a body, they deserve the charge. 

By the term Mysticism, then, as applied to the writers in 
question, I understand to be denoted, a disposition, first, to 
regard things as supernatural which are not really such ; and 
secondly, to press and strain what may perhaps be really super- 
natural in an undue and extravagant way. 

Temper in which we should begin to examine it. 5 

(4.) Upon vvliich bare statement, without going any further, a § i. 4. 
devout mind will probably at once acknowledge, on which side in 
the present question the peril of erring will be greatest. The ques- 
tion is like that of the general evidences of religion : a person who 
would go into it with advantage, should be imbued beforehand with 
a kind of natural piety, which will cause him to remember all 
along, that perhaps, when he comes to the end of his inquiry, he 
will find that God was all the while really there. He will " put off 
his shoes from off his feet," if he do but think it possible that an 
angel may tell him, by and by, " The place where thou standest 
is holy ground." So it must be, in some measure, with every 
right-minded person, in the examination of every practice and 
opinion, against which the charge of Mysticism is brought. 
Whatever may appear in the case at first sight, likely to move 
scorn or ridicule, or tempt to mere lightness of thought ; it will 
be an exercise of faith, a trial of a serious heart, to repress for 
the time any tendency of that kind : the loss and error being 
infinitely greater if we are found trifling with a really sacred sub- 
ject, than if we merely prove to have been a little more serious 
than was necessary. In this sense, that is to say, in regard of 
reverent or irreverent temper, in which such inquiries may be 
approached, superstition is surely a great deal better than irreli- 
gion : whatever may be thought of the abstract question. Whether 
it be the safer extreme to believe too much, or too little ? 

It may be said that the Fathers themselves indicate an excep- 
tion to this rule, by the light and sarcastic way, in which they 
often allow themselves to treat the pretended mysteries, sometimes 
of heatliens, sometimes of heretics as bad as heathens. But the 
case is not strictly in point. For I am speaking of pretensions 
unexamined, and therefore, as yet, more or less doubtful : but 
the Fathers had, or accounted themselves to have, good grounds 
for believing that the mysteries and miracles which they held up 
to scorn were, in part at least, the work of evil spirits, with whom 
they thus most effectually renounced communion. Before we 
indulge the like feeling in our treatment of any claim to super- 
natural powers, we had need have the like assurance of diabolical 
agency in them : and that to show them any reverence would seem 

6 Heads of Ancient Mysticism enumerated. 

§ i. 5. like imparting of God's honour to the Evil One. Although even 
in such a case deep fear and humiliation of heart would seem the 
more appropriate sentiment for ordinary Christians. For is it 
not a fearful and humbling thought, that mankind, that we our- 
selves, are, or have been, in danger of mistaking the work of God's 
enemy for His own ? 

Further, it may be well to bear in mind that the noblest and 
most refined devotional tendencies have always had to bear the 
imputation of Mysticism, or some other equivalent word ; as if to 
cultivate them were a mere indulgence of a dreamy, soaring, 
indistinct fancy. In this use of it, the word Mysticism has done 
probably as much harm in checking high contemplative devotion, 
as the kindred term, Asceticism, in discouraging Christian self- 

Thus much for the first impression, which the very application 
of the term to the Fathers would make on a considerate person, 
as yet ignorant of their writings. He would expect, almost cer- 
tainly, to find them imbued with devotional feelings of an un- 
usually high order ; and he would be prepared for the possibility, 
that even those views of theirs, which might seem at first glance 
overstrained, fantastic, or unnatural, might turn out in the end to 
be portions of true Christian wisdom. 

(5.) What now are the particulars of the Fathers' imputed Mys- 
ticism ? i. e. in what respects would they be commonly charged 
with an undue anxiety to make out supernatural meanings and 
interferences ? The following heads would seem to comprehend 
the greater part of their supposed delinquencies in this kind: — 

1. Their interpretations of Scripture are said to be far-fetched 
and extravagant; extracting figurative, theological allusions out of 
the most irrelevant or insignificant details of language or history. 

2. Correspondent to this is their mode of treating natural ob- 
jects, and the truths of philosophy and common life; fancying every 
where indications of thatsystem, on which their own hearts were set. 

3. They were mystics in their notions of providential inter- 
ference, whether in the way of judgment, deliverance, or warn- 
ing. To which head may be referred whatever they state of the 
exercise of the gift of prophecy in their times ; as also their 

Inadequate Defences of it in modern Times. 7 

accounts of reputed miracles, and of the sensible agency of evil § '• 6. 
spirits, and of their own and others' warfare with them. 

4. Finally, they are blamed for Mysticism, properly so called, 
in their moral and devotional rules ; i. e. for dwelling too much 
on counsels of perfection, tending (as is affirmed) to contempla- 
tion rather than action, to monastic rather than social and 
practical virtue. 

These are the sort of imputations on which the changes have 
been rung, for the last two centuries, by those who have wished 
to evade the testimony of the Fathers, without setting them down 
distinctly as deliberate impostors. 

(6.) It may be added, that many of their professed advocates, 
(Warburton for example,) have in fact given up their cause, as far 
as concerns every one of these representations. For what, in 
reality, does his defence of them come to, even when he is led to 
state their case most favourably ; e. g. in the Preface to Julian ? 
Just to this, and no more : that they might be trusted in their 
relations of things which came within the scope of their own 
knowledge, provided there was no room for surmising any thing 
miraculous : and again, that on other subjects, whether as rea- 
soners or as narrators, they were not weaker, but a little wiser, 
than Pagan and Jewish writers of the same date. 

It is true that Warburton belonged to a school, which has a 
temptation of its own for slighting the Fathers, over and above 
differences in particular doctrines ; a school, whose leading prin- 
ciple is, that theology, like other sciences, improves by time : 
or, (to use the words of one of its most plausible advocates) that 
*' Christianity was in its infancy, at most in its childhood, when 
these men wrote ; and therefore it is no wonder that they spake 
as children, that they understood as children, that they t/iought 
as children. This was according to the economy they were 
then under '." 

Such writers, when they speak most modestly of themselves, 

and most respectfully of antiquity, do not, however, hesitate to 

make use of the old simile, of a dwarf seeing further than a giant, 

when raised on a giant's shoulders ; imagining it to be as applicable 

' Bishop Law, as quoted by Middleton, p. 57. 

8 III Effect of shrinking from the mystical View. 

to religion, as it is to physical and human learning ; and, when 
they would most appear to advocate the ancients, cannot of 
course refrain from stigmatizing them as inadequate judges of 
Christian truth, infected sometimes with Platonic, sometimes 
with Rabbinical error : and thus, while with a sort of candour 
they excuse the men at the expense of the age, they do the 
Adversary's work, by detracting from their authority, and with- 
drawing attention and deference from their writings. 

But even those who in their hearts really loved to lean on 
Antiquity, and would have been uneasy, if they had not the suf- 
frage of the Fathers with them, have not always taken the course 
most likely to win them due respect. Whether it were that they 
feared to commit themselves, — or that they shrunk before popu- 
lar notions, — or as a mere matter of taste and feeling, — the 
champions of the Fathers, for many years past, have generally 
been content to claim credit for them only as witnesses to 
certain palpable facts of their time : the inevitable consequence 
of which has been, that even diligent and earnest inquirers have 
been satisfied with a second-hand knowledge of their writings ; 
and often, when they have come in to fill their proper place in 
argumentative discussions, they have nevertheless been far from 
occupying the room which justly belonged to them, in our theo- 
logical views and impressions. There are, and have been, praise- 
worthy attempts to raise their credit, by drawing attention to those 
portions of their literature, which seemed to have most in common 
with modern ideas, whether in the way of general reasoning with 
unbelievers, or of refined devotional feeling, or of eloquent moral- 
ity. But the very circumstance of such selections being made 
with a view to modern prejudices, shows that they can do no more 
than palliate the evil. When a reader passes from specimens of 
that kind to the whole body of any Father's writings, he is apt to 
feel as if he had been unfairly dealt with, and is inclined rather to 
be the more intolerant of the many things which he is sure to 
meet with, alien to his former tastes and habits of thought. 

(7.) May it not with reason be suspected, that the root of the 
matter lies deeper, and that in order to arrive at it, we must 
make up our minds thoroughly to consider the whole subject 

Opposition between it and popular Notions. 9 

ah initio? It may perhaps turn out that the boldest way of §1.7. 
meeting the difficulty is the most rational, and ultimately the 
most consoling. We must not be startled, though we find our- 
selves compelled to own, that modern and ancient theology are 
to a great extent irreconcileable ; that if popular notions are 
right, the Fathers are indeed " mystical" in a bad sense, and 
that, in all the several departments above mentioned. 

Thus, in respect, first, of Scripture interpretation, the re- 
ceived doctrine of this age seems to be, that nothing ought to be 
figuratively or typically explained, except on the authority of 
Scripture itself ; it being assumed, that we can no otherwise be 
certified of the divinely intended relation, necessary to make up 
the nature of a real Type. Now those who hold this rule must 
necessarily think meanly of the Fathers as expounders of Scrip- 
ture, since in every paragraph almost we find some allegory, not 
scriptural according to the required test. 

Secondly, in respect of allusions moral or theological, regularly 
and uniformly deduced from the contemplation of the creatures 
of God, in the manner, e. g. of Boyle's Occasional Reflections : 
it would probably be considered a candid judgment, in our time, 
which should allow that such might constitute tolerable poetry : 
but to consider them as a part of theology, to regard them as 
having been from the beginning intended by the Creator, and 
the creation ordered with a view to them ; — who is there among 
us, that would not at first be tempted to reject such a theory as 
overstrained and merely fanciful ? 

Thirdly, consider the tone of thought, which is accounted 
safest and meets with most encouragement in our days, concern- 
ing the intimations of God's mysterious providence, whether 
national or individual. Is it not a subject, that, as things are, even 
sincere-minded persons shrink from ? They are afraid of trusting 
themselves with it, though but in thought. What is meant will be 
perceived in a moment, if people will reflect what their first im- 
pressions were, on reading, e. g. the Journal of Archbishop Laud, 

> Bp. Van Mildert, B. L. 239, ap. Home, Introd. ii. 724 j Macknight, on 
St. Paul's Ep. iv. 439. 

10 The Inquiry limited to Points of general Agreement : 

§ i. 8. those portions of it which detail supposed providential warnings. 
Or, again, how backward we all find ourselves in confessing our 
sense of God's judgments, public and private, when in our 
thoughts we can hardly fail to perceive them. I am far from 
assertinir that this backwardness is not both pious and reasonable, 
taking all circumstances into account : but does it not imply a 
great change, either in men's condition or opinions, or in both, 
since the days of St. Ignatius and St. Cyprian ? 

Lastly, the difference in moral sentiments is too obvious to be 
denied. The cheerful, liberal, indulgent side is the popular one, 
now, in all questions of ethics : severity, strictness, self-denial, 
are but so far approved, as their immediate good effect is seen 
and understood. Need it be remarked, that the direct contrary 
is the case of the Primitive Church ? 

On the whole, the discrepancies between the two ages, occasion- 
ing the imputation of Mysticism to the ancients, are far beyond 
being accounted for by local, accidental, or temporary circum- 
stances ; they must be referred to some difference in first prin- 
ciples : and unless we are prepared to say positively, with the 
philosophic theologians above mentioned, that theology is, like 
other sciences, really advancing, of course, as the world grows 
older ; we cannot but in candour allow it at least possible, be- 
fore examination, that the ancients may have been in the right, 
and we in the wrong. 

(8.) In order to judge of this fairly, one should begin by stating, 
with its due limitations, the real judgment of Christian Antiquity 
on the several matters above enumerated, — an undertaking 
evidently far beyond the limits of such an essay as the present : 
one can only endeavour to give some faint specimen of the 
results, which, it is conceived, more extensive inquiry would esta- 
blish ; premising, however, the following cautions, as necessary 
to be kept in view throughout the inquiry. 

First, that since we are to speak of the Fathers collectively, 
we must be careful to select those points, in which they exhibit a 
tolerable general agreement. This limitation disposes at once of 
many of the most plausible objections to the views of Antiquity, 
and also of many of the unworthy and inadequate allegations of 

to be judged of by Analogy from oilier 'practical Mailers. 1 1 

its timid defenders ; as I hope to show hereafter in some import- § i. 8. 
ant examples. 

But to make the rule a practical one, we should well under- 
stand, secondly, what is to be accounted general agreement 
among the Fathers. For it is the third particular in the rule 
of Vincentius, Quod ab omnibus, which has ever afforded most 
scope for cavil to the rationalist, and for perplexity to the 
unwary. But let us only apply to this matter the same rules of 
common sense, which guide us on analogous subjects in ordinary 
life. A person not regularly trained in medicine desires to know 
what are safe rules of diet : is he to believe that there are no 
such rules at all, because he finds none from which, at some 
time or other, ingenious innovators have not contrived to dis- 
sent ? Another wishes to ascertain some point of common law : 
does he think it necessary for that purpose, that cases in all 
points exactly like his own shall have come under the cognizance 
of each former generation of jurists .'' Or, in matters of naviga- 
tion, would it be said there were no fixed rules, because but a few 
out of many seamen have left the results of their experience any 
where on record ? The question about the Fathers is so far like 
these, that it is strictly a question of practice : men want to know 
which is the safest way in regard of their duty towards God ; if 
they require in every point absolute inevitable demonstration, of 
course they cannot have it in the Fathers : but do they really 
think they find it in Holy Scripture ? 

Certainly, many of the principles most relied on by Daille and 
other such writers, are such that, if we followed them out, we 
should not stop short of universal scepticism. E. g, Whitby lays 
it down as an axiom ', That if Scripture be a perfect rule of faith, 
it must be so clear in necessary things as to require no interpre- 
ter ; and that it cannot be a rule or measure where it is obscure. 
Might he not as reasonably have said, that it cannot be a rule to 
any one who does not thoroughly understand the languages in 
which it was originally written? Such sentiments are, in fact, 
inconsistent with the present condition of man : they deal with us 
as though we might be independent of human testimony, or 
arrive at mathematical certainty in moral matters. We can only 
1 Ref. p. 8, 9. 

1 2 Agreement to be sought in Principles, not in Details : 

§ i. 8. be safe by putting them aside, and resolving to use, on this sub- 
ject, the same kind of intuitive good sense, which is given us 
for our guide in all other matters of conduct ; which good sense, 
as even heathen moralists could discern, is the ordinary accom- 
paniment and providential reward of intellectual fairness and 

Nor can any measure of general agreement be laid down, in 
words so precise, as not to leave a great deal to the exercise of 
this practical wisdom. However, one obvious rulfe would be, 
not to demand coincidence in detail, but in general principles ; 
and again, in those generals only, which belong to the professed 
subject-matter and scope of the writers. For example, there 
is hardly one of the Fathers, of whose works we have any 
considerable quantity remaining, but has left on record his inter- 
pretation of one part or another of the Old Testament, in sufficient 
quantity to indicate his rules of exposition. Now, who will 
deny that it would be a very remarkable fact, should those rules 
be found, on the wiiole, the same throughout the whole series 
of Catholic Fathers ; — a fact on which important conclusions may 
depend? and yet it may so happen, that no one passage in the 
Bible is quoted by them all ; and again, that there are no two 
of them who agree in their explanations of all the passages they 

Again ; it may be, that in the detail of some historical facts, 
or in some abstract principles not immediately bearing on theology, 
there may exist a general, not to say an universal, agreement, on 
which, nevertheless, very little can be built, because on such things 
they may very well be supposed to have taken for granted what 
was generally received in their age. Or, if they differ, such dif- 
ference rather illustrates their concurrence on the great eccle- 
siastical subjects ; for it proves the activity of their minds, and 
their energy in judging for themselves, where religion permitted. 
For example, among the opinions attributed to the Fathers as 
erroneous, we find ' the notion of the soul in its separate statehaving 
a kind of body or sensible form, an aerial e'i^ojXoy, or vehicle (as it 
has sometimes been called). And again, we find cited ^ as a spe- 
cimen of the discrepancies of Catholic writers, the opposite con- 
» Whitby, pp. 201—203. » Ibid. Pref. Ixxvi— Ixxviii. 

and in Theological Matter : Reserve to be allowed for. 13 

jectures of St. Augustin and St. Jerome on the origination of the § i. H, 10. 
soul. Now, these are metaphysical not theological points ; they 
fall not within the province of Christian Antiquity as such ; on 
such points, neither discrepancy nor agreement in error proves 
any thing against the Fathers, as Divines. 

(9.) As then common sense teaches, that in judging collectively 
of that large and miscellaneous body of literature, which goes under 
the name of the Fathers, we must select those points, if any, 
VFhich are common to the whole mass ; and again, that when we 
speak of agreement among them, we must mean agreement in 
principle not in detail, and on Christian not on secular subjects : 
so a little ecclesiastical knowledge will suggest to us another 
consideration, very needful to be borne in mind, when we are 
estimating the value of their concurrence in any point within 
their sphere, — ^^I mean the reverential reserve, which undoubt* 
edly they practised in every part of religion, in proportion 
to its sacredness. If we would deal fairly with the subject, 
we must make allowance for this reserve. Knowing for cer- 
tain that it did exist, we are bound to take it into the account, 
and often to give those who wrote under its influence credit for a 
more thorough agreement in high and mysterious doctrines, than 
their words at first sight would otherwise appear to express. 
One very remarkable instance, which it is enough just to mention 
now, it having been of late amply illustrated, is the doctrine of 
the Ante-Nicene Fathers concerning the Divinity of the Son 
of God. Another is, the rule of solemnization of the holy Sacra- 
ments. A reader versed in liturgical language, will often dis- 
cover in the writings of the Fathers, sometimes in Scripture 
itself, allusions to the sacraments conveyed in one word or syllable, 
— allusions primd facie so faint, that we could hardly dare to 
reason upon them, were we not aware of the duty of reserve 
which would hinder the writers from more express disclosure of 
the particulars of those Holy Mysteries. 

(10.) It may be well to add one more caution, relating particu- 
larly to the interpretation of Scripture. Like all questions of lan- 
guage, especially poetical language, it is to every one of us in some 
degree a matter of taste : we come to it prepossessed with certain 
conventional rules, or certain associations of our own, which 

14 Prejudices of Taste. — Universality of ancient Mysticism. 

§ ii. 1. cling by us in spite of ourselves, and often affect our reasonings 
more than we are aware. But as the Scripture itself, both in 
substance and in form, is surely far unlike what mere human 
wisdom would have anticipated, so it is more than possible, that 
the true method of interpreting it may conduct us on a very 
different line, from any which would be pointed out by merely 
human criticism. It seems reasonable, therefore, and religious, to 
come to questions of that kind, expecting to meet with many 
things which may at first seem strange or fanciful, or otherwise 
■ unworthy of Divine wisdom ; to make up our minds beforehand, 
that we will not be too much startled by such things, nor reject 
them at once, but try them by their proper measures ; lest we be 
found deferring to our own prejudices, rather than to the truth 
of God : — prejudices, not so much of opinion, as of rhetorical or 
poetical taste. 

Under such impressions, we may safely approach the first head 
of Mysticism imputed to the Fathers, viz. their mode of inter- 
preting Holy Scripture. 

§ ii, — Specimen of ancient Mysticism in interpreting Scripture. 

(1 .) First, as to the matter of fact ; we need not perhaps hesitate 
to admit in the most unreserved way, — indeed it might be hard 
to find any one who has ever denied, — the universal adoption, by 
the early Christian writers, of the allegorical way of expounding 
the Old Testament. They do undoubtedly profess to find an in- 
tended figurative and Christian meaning, in innumerable places, 
which are neither express prophecies, nor alluded to as types 
in the New. Not only in the prophetical writings do they 
find our Lord and His Gospel every where ; not only do they 
trace throughout the Levitical services the example and shadow 
of the future heavenly things ; but they deal also in the same way 
with the records of history, whether Patriarchal or Jewish; and 
with the fragments which the HotY Ghost has caused to be pre- 
served out of the moral and devotional poetry of tlie Hebrews, 
— the Book of Job, the Psalms, and the Proverbs, and (what 
ia in some respects the most significant and remarkable instance 
of all) the Song of Solomon from beginning to end. 

The general fact is doubtless familiar to all ; being constantly 

Specimen of it in Allusions to the Passion. 15 

produced, on the one hand, by the assailants of the Fathers — § "• 2, 3. 
(for '• whole books," as Middleton contemptuously says ', " have 
been compiled of their foolish reasonings in religion ;") — nor 
on the other hand, has their exercise of this mode of inter- 
pretation been ever disputed, as a fact, by their defenders : 
whether it has been duly appreciated by the writers of either 
party, is altogether another question. Nowhere, perhaps, among 
our English divines, will the subject be found treated more 
thoughtfully or more worthily, than by Bishop Fell, in his Notes 
on St. Cyprian, and on the Apostolical Fathers. However, in so 
great a consent of witnesses, one may state the case largely with- 
out presumption, and without affecting more than a superficial 
knowledge of Antiquity. 

(2.) Let it then be taken for granted, that a mode of expound- 
ing, which would seem to most men fanciful and strained, generally 
prevails in the Christian writers of the first centuries. The great 
point will be, to account in some measure for this fact. In order 
to which it may be expedient not by way of proof, but of illus- 
tration, if we take some one remarkable instance, and trace it 
as we may through the writings of some of the most eminent and 
earliest Fathers. And, not to give them any undue advantage, 
it may be well to select one of those subjects, their treatment of 
which is commonly considered most extravagant ; a subject, which 
has attracted towards them in no common degree the contemptu- 
ous wonder of modern critics and philosophers : 1 mean, their 
discovering the tokens of our Lord's Passion, and more espe- 
cially the Sign of the Cross, in innumerable places of the Old 
Testament, which neither are so expounded in the New, nor to 
common eyes betray of themselves any such allusion. 

(3.) To begin with the Epistle attributed to St. Barnabas; it is 
well known how unreservedly it adopts the allegorical mode of 
interpretation. Supposing it not to be written by the Apostle, — a 
supposition which involves no charge of forgery, since it nowhere 
professes to be his ; and in which it may not be wrong to ac- 
quiesce, rather, however, for want of ecclesiastical testimony to 
its genuineness, than for^ny thing unworthy of such an origin to 
be discovered in the epistle itself, — it is undoubtedly, by the man- 

' P. 57. 

1 G St. Barnabas, his Mystical Allusion to the Cross. 

§ ii. 4. ner in which St. Clement of Alexandria quotes it, a monument of 
the age next after the Apostles, and almost as undoubtedly, judging 
by internal evidence, it was meant as what in our days would be 
called a popular hortatory tract, intended to reconcile the Christians 
of the circumcision to the utter rejection of the Jewish people. 
And by one expression in it\ we may perhaps reasonably assign 
its date to the year 136 or thereabouts; when Adrian, having 
overthrown the rebel Jews under Bar Cochab, was most active 
in building ^lia on the site of Jerusalem, and a Gentile Christian 
Church was beginning to flourish there. To this, as it may seem, 
the author of the Epistle applies the prophecy of Isaiah, (xlix. 17.) 
according to the reading of the LXX. : •' ' Thou shalt be quickly 
builded by those who were thy destroyers :' this," says he, " is 
now in course of accomplishment. For their rising in war led to 
the subversion of their city by their enemies ; but now the very 
servants of the same enemies are building it up again." 

This date deserves notice, because it suggests a sufficient rea- 
son for the freedom with which the author, in a popular tract, 
exhibits the method of symbolical exposition, which was gene- 
rally rather withdrawn from ordinary eyes. The calamity, perhaps, 
was great and astounding enough to justify disclosures otherwise 
irregular, for the consolation and establishment of the faithful. 

However, certain it is that this epistle, which is addressed to 
Christian men and women without distinction, might be not 
unfitly selected for a specimen of the mystical way, as applied to 
the Old Testament. 

(4.) As concerning the Passion and Cross of our Lord in par- 
ticular, (to say nothing of the sacrifice of Isaac, the typical 
nature whereof, as it seems, no age of Christians has ever denied, 
notwithstanding the silence of Scripture,) St. Barnabas has the 
following passage^: " Israel being attacked by the aliens, with a 
view, amongst other things, of signifying to the people, that 
their transgressions were the cause of their being given over to 
death, the Spirit speaks inwardly to Moses, to form a type of 
the Cross, and of Him who was to suffer : that if men refuse to 
trust in Him, they will have no peace 'for ever. Moses there- 
fore places one shield on another in the middle of the mound ; 
» C. xvi. 2 C. xii. 

Warrant in Scripture for St. Barnabas's Mysticism. 17 

and being thus posted high above all, he stretches out his hands, § ii. 6. 
and so Israel began again to be victorious : afterwards, when on 
the contrary he let down his hands, again they were slaughtered. 
Wherefore ? That men might know there is no chance of salvation, 
except they put their trust in Him. And in another Prophet he 
says, ' All the day long I have stretched forth my hands to a 
disobedient and gainsaying people.' " 

What is very observable, the Author next goes on to mention, 
with just the same tone of confidence, and no more, the typical 
meaning of the Brasen Serpent ; observing, with his usual piety, 
" Thou hast in this also the glory of Jesus ; that in Him, and 
to Him, are all things." 

Had it seemed good to God's providence, that the discourse 
of our Lord to Nicodemus should have been lost, as so many 
other of His divine words were, would not the Christian inter- 
pretation of this latter miracle have seemed to many forced and 
fanciful, just as that of the former may perhaps seem now ? 
And ought not this single consideration to stop the mouths of all, 
who have any reverence in their hearts, when they find themselves 
tempted to join in hasty censure or scorn of such interpretations ? 
For aught they know, they may be scorning or censuring the very 
lessons of our Divine Master Himself. 

(5.) I proceed to another historical type, which to many may 
appear more extravagant. The Author is reasoning on the history 
of Abraham, to prove the insufficiency of Jewish circumcision 
out of the Old Testament itself. So far, as will occur to every 
one, he is treading in the steps of St. Paul. After producing 
many passages to that purpose, he closes the subject with the 
following ^ : " Consider whether there be not abundant instruc- 
tion on this whole matter, in the account given us, that Abra- 
ham, who first gave men circumcision, did thereby perform a 
spiritual and typical action, looking forward to the Son : and that, 
upon receiving certain doctrines conveyed in three (mystical) 
letters. For He saith, Abraham circumcised of his house men 
to the number of three hundred and eighteen. What then is 

' £p. S. Barnab. c. ix. 
VOL. VI. — 89. c 

18 Mystical Meaning of Gen xiv. 14. 

ii. 6. the mysterious truth thus vouchsafed to him ? Observe the 
eighteen first, then the three hundred. Of the two letters which 
stand for 18, 10 is represented by I, 8 by H. Thou hast here 
the word Jesus :" i. e., the two first letters, which formed as it 
were a cypher of the sacred Name, familiar to the eyes and 
thoughts of the Christians of that generation : as was also the 
third of the numeral letters in question, which the writer next 
goes on to explain : " Because the Cross, which is signified to 
the eye by the letter Tau, was intended to bring the grace, [to 
which he looked forward ;] he adds the three hundred also," 
the letter Tau representing that number. " By the two first 
letters then the name Jesus is indicated, and by the third the 

On this commentary, which as well as the former has been 
adopted by multitudes of the early interpreters ^ several remarks 
occur, which it may be well to put down, as they will each of 
them apply to a whole class of examples, and to difficulties 
which are certain to arise in many of our minds, though we 
were never so resolutely on our guard against prejudices of mere 
taste and association. 

(6.) First, it may be observed that the several circumstances, 
which may appear at first sight startling in this exposition, 
though not perhaps united in any one Scriptural example, have 
yet, each severally, undoubted sanction of Scripture. Thus, 
the use of the numeral letters as a cypher, to convey some mys- 
terious truth, has a well-known precedent in the Book of Reve- 
lation. Again, the passage in St. Barnabas is an instance of the 
combination of texts apparently remote, but really bearing on 
the same subject : for the number, three hundred and eighteen, 
is not mentioned in the account of the circumcision of Abraham's 
family, but is borrowed from the previous enumeration occa- 
sioned by the war with Chedorlaomer ^. Now, this sort of 
combination of remote texts appears to be warranted, in one in- 

* For example, S. Clem. Alex. Strom, vi. 84 ; S. Ambr. de Fide, i. init, and 
§ 121; S. Aug. Quaest. in Jud. 37 ; S. Hil. de Synod. 86. 
' Compare Gen. xvii. 27 ; xiv. 14. 

The Greek Bible recognised by the Fathers. 19 

stance at least, by our blessed Lord Himself. " Is it not written, § ii. 7. 
* My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?'" 
So far is taken from Isaiah, but the conclusion of the sentence, 
" Ye have made it a den of thieves," was addressed by Jeremiah 
to a subsequent generation '. 

Now whether the fact were really so or not, (if it were, it was 
surely by special providence,) that Abraham's household at the 
time of circumcision was exactly tlie same number as before : 
still the argument of St. Barnabas will stand. As thus : circum- 
cision had from the beginning a reference to our Saviour, as in 
other respects, so in this : that the mystical number, which is 
the cypher of Jesus crucified, was the number of the first 
circumcised household, in the strength of which Abraham 
prevailed against the powers of the world. So St. Clement 
of Alexandria', as cited by Fell^ : "It is commonly supposed 
that we have here an indication of a correspondency between 
the case of Abraham's household and the method of salvation : 
of the victory obtained by those who have betaken them- 
selves to the Holy Sign and Name, over those who led thera 
captive, and the innumerable tribes of unbelievers, who follow 
in their train." 

(7.) Nor is warrant of Scripture wanting for that which must 
otherwise seem most inadmissible in this interpretation; the 
appeal namely to the Greek Bible, as having something like 
divine authority. And this again is a topic which meets us 
throughout the remaies both of the Greek and Latin Fathers. The 
Septuagint, and Latin versions clearly made from it, are every- 
where unscrupulously quoted as the words of inspiration ; with 
the single exception, perhaps, of St. Jerome. Some of the 
Fathers' opponents would insinuate, that this rests altogether 
on the tradition reported by Aristeas, of a miraculous consent 
among the original translators, even in the minutest point. But 
this is refuted by the language of St. Augustin*, who speaks 
doubtfully of that tradition, but without any doubt of this par- 
ticular version being so overruled by a prophetic Spirit, that 

' See Isa. Ivi, 7; Jer. vii. 11. * Strom, vi. 11. 

* In loc. S. Barn. * De Doct. ChrisU ii. 22. 


20 The Greek Bible recognised by St. Paul. 

§ ii. 7. even in those places where it swerved from the Hebrew Verity, 
there was a special providential design in such variation '. 

Now, can it be denied, that this idea receives countenance from 
the mode in which the Old Testament is quoted in the New ? In 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, for example, St. Paul argues at large 
the necessity of the Mediator's death, from the use of the word 
SiadijKT], " Testament," in tlie LXX. to represent that Hebrew 
word which is commonly translated Covenant. " For this cause," 
says he, " it is a New Testament, of which Christ is said to be 
Mediator, that by means of death the called might receive the 
promise ; for where a Testament is pleaded, the death of the 
testator must necessarily be alleged. For a Testament is valid 
in the case of the dead, since it never avails, as long as the tes- 
tator is alive ^." And he goes on to show how the word was 
applicable to the Mosaic covenant also, i. e. by the typical death 
of the sacrifices. Who does not see that this reasoning is grounded 
entirely on the Greek version ? since the Hebrew JH^IJl does not 
in any way answer to the notion of a last will. St. Paul's reason- 
ing implies therefore thus much at least concerning the LXX. ; 
that in their rendering of this very critical word, they were provi- 
dentially directed to the use of a term, which should convey an 
allusion to a great Christian mystery. And so far the Apostle 
warrants the judgment of St. Augustin': "Whoever besides 
shall truly translate any portion of the Old Testament from 
Hebrew into another language :" (St. Jerome, of course, was 
in his mind :) " his version will be found either to agree 
with that of the LXX., or if it appears not to agree, in 
that very disagreement we must believe that there exists some 
deep prophetic meaning." Nay, even St. Jerome, when he is 
impugning their authority, seems to own that there might 
exist in them a modified and inferior kind of inspiration. " I 
do* not condemn, I do not blame the LXX., but I confidently 
prefer the Apostles to them all. Christ speaks to me by the lips 
of those, concerning whom I read*, that they stand even before 

' De Civ. Dei, xviii. 43. ^ Hgi,. ix. 15—20. ^ S. Aug. ubi sup. 
* Prolog, in Gen. t. ix. p. 10. Ed. Vallars. Venet. 1770. 
* 1 Cor. xii. 28. 

Allusions to the Cross, how viewed hij Antiquity. 21 

Prophets in the order of spiritual gifts ; in which order the inter- § ii. 15. 
pretation of tongues occupies nearly the last place." 

We have seen that in one place at least this view is justified 
by the Scripture : and one place is sufficient for our present 
purpose, which is, not to prove the Seventy infallible, but to 
bespeak a certain reverence for their yet unexamined decisions, 
and for the constant appeals of the early writers to them. For 
who can assure himself, that in any variation from the Hebrew, 
which seems to him most unaccountable, they were not guided 
by the same influence, which caused them to write Testament 
instead of Covenant, in the places referred to by St. Paul ? 

(8.) To return to the passage in Genesis : in whatever measure 
the fact is made out, that the received Greek version of the Scrip- 
tures was under a peculiar providence, in the same degree it is 
rendered not improbable, that even in such an apparently 
casual thing as the number of Abraham's servants, there was 
an eye to the benefit and consolation which the Church should 
long after receive, on recognizing, as it were, her Saviour's 
cypher, in the account of the one holy family triumphantly warring 
against the powers of the world. It were a most inadequate 
judgment, to estimate that consolation by any of the feelings 
and opinions current in our time. We must go back to the days 
when Christians were used to carry about with them every where 
the Sign of the Cross ; when, to use the forcible words of TertuUian \ 
'* At every step and every movement, going out and coming in, 
dressing and putting on their sandals, at the bath, at the board, 
when lamps were lighted, when they lay down to rest, when they 
seated themselves for their daily task, whatever call of ordinary 
life engaged them, the Holy Sign, by incessant use, was as it 
were worn into their foreheads." With such associations, it 
must have been a real joy to them, as often as they discovered 
the Cross in the Old Testament, where they had not marked 
it before : it was to them an outward and visible sign of their 
communion with Saints and Patriarchs of old, and of God's 
everlasting providence over both. It was moreover a perma- 

» De Cor. Mil. c. 3. 

22 St. Barnabas wrote with Seriousness and Reserve. 

ii. 9, 10. nent warning, intelligible to all, against the impiety, not unusual 
in those days, of ascribing the two Testaments to different 
deities. People little know what they do, when they deal con- 
temptuously with any thing, be it in Scripture or in common 
life, under the notion that it is too slight, too insignificant, 
for the ordering of the Most High. 

(9.) All which considered there appears no fanaticism, 
but a great deal of sober piety and charity, in the expressions 
of St. Barnabas on dismissing this topic. •* He knows" the 
reality of this mystery " from whom we," Christians or Chris- 
tian teachers, " derive the ingrafted gift of that teaching, which 
is properly His. Never have I delivered to any one a more 
genuine exposition, but I am well assured that you are meet to 
receive it." 

If the writer had been merely indulging his own fancy, this 
profession of reserve would be mere affectation. But surely, to 
esteem it such is too hard a supposition, considering the per- 
fect simplicity and moral purity of the precepts at the close of 
the Epistle. His very tone and manner, then, creates an addi- 
tional presumption, that the exposition which he had been giving 
was not private but ecclesiastical, and the sort of scruple, with 
which he imparts it, an instance of that discipline of reserve, 
which the Church recommended in the conveyance of all her 

(10.) Neither need any one be staggered at the idea, which his 
manner of speaking at first sight appears to imply, that Abraham 
himself was not ignorant of this mystery ; a notion upon which 
Dr. Whitby has built what he conceives to be a triumphant 
refutation of the allegory. " The Hebrew letter Tau \" be 
observes, " neither bears the form of the Cross ', nor is the 
symbol of the number three hundred ; and as to the Greek 
letters, they were not invented till long after Abraham's time." 
Well; but does St. Barnabas affirm that Abraham himself knew 
the meaning of this Greek cypher ? If he did, he might suppose 
it made known by prophetic inspiration ; according to the received 
exposition of the text in St. John, " Your father Abraham 
1 De S. S. Interp. p. 9. ^ See S. Jerome on Ezek. ix. 4. t v. pars i. p. 95, 6. 

Extent of the Patriarchs' Knorvlcdge left doubtful. 23 

rejoiced to see My day." But what are St. Barnabas' own §il. 11. 
words ? " He circumcised his family, Xa/Bwv rpiiov ypafifiuTUtv 
hoynara, after he had received the doctrines of the three letters," 
i. e. certain mysterious truths, of which the three letters were 
to be a symbol. It is not said, he received them by the three 

Again, after stating the number of the household, he asks, 
r»e ovv 11 ^odilaa tovt<^ yvuxriQ ; which may be perhaps best con- 
strued, " What is the evangelical meaning of the signs given to 
him ?" taking yvwaiq objectively, for the truth sealed up, not 
subjectively, for the impression on Abraham's mind. It is not 
therefore necessary to understand St. Barnabas as asserting, that 
the holy Patriarch himself had this secret revealed to him. For 
any thing he affirms, it might be a yvuxng, the outward cypher 
of which only was given to Abraham, the key reserved for the 
times of our Lord and His Gospel. 

And after all, a mistake in that particular could not fairly in- 
validate the whole interpretation. There is a school of theolo- 
gians, which maintains that Abel must have known the full 
doctrine of the Atonement. Those who hesitate in allowing this, 
do not therefore necessarily doubt the typical and mystical im- 
port of Abel's history. So in this case, we might believe St. 
Barnabas, stating what was known in his time to be the significa- 
tion of the three letters, while we demurred to his supposition, 
that it was known also to Abraham. 

(11.) There is yet one more instance, in this ancient epistle, of 
allegorical interpretation with reference to the Cross of our Lord : 
an instance which like the former may stand at the head of 
a class, and being well considered, may throw much light on 
another wide province of the so-called mysticism of the Church. 
'* Let us see," says the writer ', " whether the Lord has seen good 
to give men prophetical indications of the Water and of the 
Cross." Then, after other texts, he alleges the first Psalm, 
" He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that 
bringeth forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall not 
wither ; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly 

^ S. Barnab. Ep. c. xL 

24 Mystical Meaning of the Tree in Psalm i. : 

§ ii. 12. are not so : but are like the chafF which the wind driveth away ; 
therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners 
in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the 
way of the righteous : but the way of the ungodly shall perish." 
Then, " Observe," says he, " how distinctly the prophet has 
pointed out the Tree and the Water in combination. For what he 
says, comes to this ; * Blessed are they who, setting their hope in 
the Cross, have descended into the Water : for I will render their 
reward in its time,' i. e. hereafter. But for the present, the 
Psalmist adds, * his leaf shall not wither,' i. e. every word which 
shall go out of your mouth in faith and love, shall be to the con- 
version and hope of many." The allusion to the Cross is here brief 
and obscure, turning as it does upon the single word ro ivXuv. 
But the moral of the passage is surely most noble and beautiful. 
" The Cross, applied by Holy Baptism, gaining the victory over 
the powers of the world, is not only the pledge and mean, but 
also the emblem, of the faithful man's triumph over his spiritual 
enemies. It is the pattern, as its Lord is the giver, of all victory. 
And therefore, blessed is the man who walks strictly according 
to all the rules of a holy life : for he is like the Cro^^s of Christ ; 
his success is sure ; his lot, to bear fruit eternally without stint or 

Every one must admire the thought, but the question now is, 
how it is derived from the Psalm. The account of which, and of 
many like texts, seems to be as follows : The old Christian wri- 
ters, either by tradition, or by a feeling so general that it seemed 
almost like a natural instinct, believed that the phrase to £,v\oy, 
wherever introduced in the Old Testament, was intended to lead 
their thoughts to the cross ; of which in their ordinary speech, 
TO ^vXov was perhaps the most frequent appellative. Accordingly, 
not only such obvious analogies as Isaac bearing the wood of his 
sacrifice, the Brasen Serpent, or such a place as that in Isaiah, 
" The government," i. e. the sign of power, the victorious Cross, 
" shall be upon his shoulder," — but every rod also, or staff, or 
sceptre, mentioned by either of the sacred writers, as it was a 
token of guidance, support, or dominion, was, in the Fathers' 
judgment, a designed emblem of the Cross. 
(12.) The best way, perhaps, of exemplifying this, will be to tran- 

Scripture Warrant for it as staled by Justin Martyr. 25 

scribe from Justin Martyr's dialogue with Tryphon, which may § ij. 12. 
be considered as a popular view of the prima facie evidence for 
Christianity in the Old Testament, the remarkable passage ^ in 
which he undertakes to prove, that " since the time of our Lord's 
crucifixion, there hath been inseparably associated with Him 
that which is an emblem, on the one hand, of the tree of life, the 
plantation of which in Paradise had been matter of early reve- 
lation ; on the other hand, it is also an emblem of the course 
appointed by the Almighty for the righteous." This passage, 
then, professedly gives the view which the Christians of Justin's 
time took of large portions of the ancient Scriptures : and it is 
noticeable also on another account, that it has attracted the 
especial scorn of rationalist writers : the language, for example, of 
Middleton concerning it, is marked (I had almost said) by brutal 
irreverence*. However, thus Justin proceeds: 

" Moses with a rod was sent to redeem the people ; and bearing 
this in his hand, in the place of sovereignty over them, he divided 
the Red Sea. It was by this that the rock gave forth water, 
gushing out in his sight. It was a tree which he cast into the 
waters of Marah, which being bitter were so made sweet. It was 
by means of rods cast into the water that Jacob caused the sheep 
of his mother's brother so to conceive that the young might fall 
to his share. With his rod, or staff, he, the same Jacob, passed 
over the water [of Jordan] as he himself boasts. He declared 
that a ladder had been seen by him ; and that it was God Himself 
who was stationed on the top thereof, the Scripture hath expressly 
affirmed." This example is not irrelevant, since a ladder is part 
(so to speak) of the furniture of the Cross. Then liaving 
digressed on some other emblems occurring in the vision at 
Bethel, Justin goes on : " It was the rod of Aaron, which by its 
budding declared him High Priest. That as a rod from the root 
of Jesse Christ should be born, Isaiah foretold ; and David saith 
that the righteous man is as the tree planted by the river of waters, 
which shall bring forth his fruit in its season, and his leaf shall 
not wither :" where we have Justin's sanction for the interpreta- 

» 0pp. p. 312—314. ed. Morell, 1636. * Free Inquiry, &c. p. 29. 

26 Mystic Combinations of the Cross and the IVater : 

§ ii. 13. tion which St. Barnabas had given before him. '* Again, he saith, 
• The righteous shall flourish like a palm.' From a tree God 
appeared to Abraham, as it is written, at the oak of Mamre. 
Seventy willows and twelve fountains the people found, having 
passed over Jordan. By a rod and a staff, David affirms that he 
received comfort from his God. It was wood which Elisha cast 
into the river Jordan, and so brought up the iron of the axe, 
wherewith the sons of the prophets had gone forth, to cut timber 
for building that mansion, wherein it was their purpose to recite 
and study the law and the commandments of God. Even as when 
we were plunged deep in the most grievous sins, which had been 
our practice, by His Crucifixion on the tree and by the water 
of His Purification, our Christ redeemed us, and caused us to 
become an house of prayer and adoration [to Himself]. Also, 
it was a rod which manifested Judah to be the father of those 
[twins] who were so born of Thamar, as to exhibit a great 

(13.) From this enumeration, which contains in brief the sub- 
stance of a great body of commentaries, the chain of ideas is at 
once apparent, which led to the mystical exposition of the first 
Psalm. As in the former instances, the uplifted arm of Moses 
and the cypher inclosed in the number of Abraham's household, 
it was theybrm of the Cross which conveyed the divine intima- 
tion : so here the material of the Cross is found endued with the 
like emblematical virtues. 

Again, as St. Barnabas had produced this Psalm as shadowing 
out a mystic combination of the Cross and the Water, and there- 
fore representing the condition of Christian people ; so in almost 
all the anecdotes, parables, and allusions, collected by Justin in 
this passage, the like combination is observable. Thus, to take 
the history of Moses, the virtue of his rod was shown at the 
Red Sea, and in bringing water out of the rock ; the water of 
Marah was sweetened by the tree which he cast in : the trees and 
fountains of Elim seen together, were the earnest of hope to the 
Israelites at their entrance on the wilderness. Elisha's causing 
iron to swim was a token, as we have seen, of our deliverance 
"by the crucifixion on the tree, and the water of purification." 

Justin s Comment on the History of the Ark. 27 

It will be at once seen what a strong light is thrown, by such a § »• 14. 
series of exanoples, on the doctrine of the Sacraments, as held by 
that generation. The Cross and the Water, it is taken for 
granted, go together to save a man. 

(14.) But in order to appreciate rightly the Fathers' reasoning 
in such places, we ought of course to recollect, that its force lies 
in the accumulation of instances. It is not necessary that each 
anecdote, taken by itself, should be a complete type of the evan- 
gelical truth, at which the sum of the whole points : e. g. though 
a person questioned the distinct allusion to any Christian mystery 
in the account, taken singly, of Jacob's using rods to influence the 
breed of Laban's cattle, still it must come in as one among many 
examples, to show how constantly the Almighty employed that 
material which was to be the instrument of redemption, as a con- 
veyance of temporal blessings to His chosen people. 

Nor must we omit the scriptural sanction, which may seem to be 
vouchsafed to this whole class of symbols, by the mention in the 
New Testament of the ark of Noah : on which Justin himself com- 
ments elsewhere in the following way \ " In Isaiah, it is said by the 
Almighty to Jerusalem, I saved thee in the deluge of Noah." 
(He seems to be quoting, not in words but in sense, that portion 
of the 54th chapter, " As I have sworn that the waters of Noah 
shall no more overflow the earth, so have I sworn to be wroth 
with thee no more.") " Now,*' proceeds Justin, '• this is the de- 
claration of God, that the mystery of those who were saved by 
Christ was exhibited at the deluge. For the righteous Noah 
with the rest at the deluge, . . being eight in number, had a token 
of that eighth day, on which our Lord Christ showed Himself 
risen from the dead : the eighth day numerically, but virtually 
the first, from the beginning. For Christ, as He was the first- 
born of every creature, so He became anew the beginning of a 
fresh race of men ; vis. that which was regenerated by Him, 
through Water and Faith ; and also, we may add, by Wood, since 
wood expresses the mystery of the Cross. Even as Noah also 
was preserved by wood, floating upon the waters with those who 

» P. 367, c. 

28 Importance of the Instances alleged hy Justin. 

ii. 15, 16. belonged to him. When therefore the prophet says, ' I saved 
thee in Noah,' he is speaking to that people who, like Noah, are 
faithful to God, and have the same tokens from Him that Noah 

Thus far St. Justin the Martyr, shewing how in the history 
of the ark, there was a designed allusion to the Cross; and by 
parity of reasoning justifying the like exposition, wherever it has 
seemed good to Almighty God to use the material of the Cross, 
namely wood, in the machinery, so to call it, of His miraculous 
providence, over those who, in their several ages, were to pre- 
pare the way of His Christ. 

(15.) For this may be observed of all the instances enumerated 
above from Jewish or Patriarchal history, (and I remark it on 
account of those especially, who may be inclined to treat the sub- 
ject lightly) that, one and all, they are discernible links in the 
providential chain above mentioned ; they all relate to critical 
moments in the history of the chosen seed. Thus the superna- 
tural increase of Jacob's flock, by means of the rods, was the first 
great step towards the increase of the chosen family into a na- 
tion : and again Judah's staff, the producing of which as his 
token stayed the sentence of death against Tamar, was thereby 
instrumental in preserving the life of her infant, in whom it was 
God's purpose to continue the chosen seed. 

Perceiving, as we do in these cases, something of God's design 
in interfering, it surely becomes us to treat those traditions with 
reverence, which treat that, in the manner of interferinor, He had 
respect continually to the end of the whole dispensation, i. e. to 
the Cross of His Son. And if we find other instances alleged, 
whose place in the divine Economy we are as yet unable to make 
out, let us not rashly treat them as trifling or fanciful. If we 
do not see their force at first, if they appear to us quaint and 
overstrained, it is surely possible that this our ignorance may 
be our own fault or our own trial ; it is no absolute proof that 
the old interpreters are wrong. 

(16.) In quitting for the present this subject, of the types of the 
Cross in the Old Testament, I would just remark further, that it 
furnishes a clear and instructive example of the manner in which 

Connexion of the Scriptural with the Natural Allegory. 29 

the Fathers passed from one branch of mysticism into another ; § ii. 17. 
from allegorizing the word of God, to spiritualizing His works. 
We have seen how they found, or thought they found, a designed 
remembrancer or token of the Cross, wherever either its mate- 
rial or its form occurred in the Old Testament : and, full as their 
minds evidently were of the Scriptures, it was but one step farther, 
to carry the same association with them, which way soever they 
turned, in common life, or among natural objects. For example, 
so ordinary a sight as that of a flourishing tree by a river side 
could hardly fail to excite in a devout mind, thoroughly familiar 
with the Psalms, the remembrance of the description above 
quoted, with which that divine book opens ; which description, 
again, as we have seen, was in a primitive Christian's mind 
inseparable from thoughts of the Cross and of the Font. 

Here then, among God's visible ordinary works, we obtain a 
standing type or symbol, — and, bearing as it does the mark of 
selection by the Holy Ghost, may we not venture to call it a 
pledge ? — of His great invisible work in Holy Baptism ; the grace 
of which, we are thus taught, diffusing a kind of insensible virtue 
through the whole of our renewed nature, causes a man to grow 
in the likeness of Christ, to partake more and more of His Cross, 
and so to have surer and surer hope, that *• look, whatsoever he 
doeth, it shall prosper" for ever. 

By this and other like instances, a windoxv being once opened 
for the lamps lighted within the Church to stream here and there 
upon the external world, it was rendered easy for a devout and 
contemplative mind to invent and pursue like trains of thought, 
in other instances, less expressly warranted in Scripture. 

(17.) To take an instance from the subject which has now em- 
ployed us : the early Christian writers repeatedly point out, in 
nature and in common life, what they regard as designed provi- 
dential intimations of the doctrine of redemption, or some part of 
it, by association either with the form or with the material of the 
Cross. This they do, not only in flights of devotional poetry, or in 
what might be considered the indulgence of a meditative imagina- 
tion, but in serious argument even with unbelievers. So in Justin's 
well-known appeal, where he is asserting the dignity of the 

30 Natural and Providential Emblems of the Cross. 

§ ii. 17. Cross '. " Providentially," he says, " it was so ordered, that in 
no instance, in the legend of any of those who were called sons 
of Jupiter, did the Evil Spirits enact the death of the Cross. 
For it was not understood by them, all the prophecies of it being 
symbolically expressed. Now the Cross, as one of the Prophets 
(Habakkuk ') foretold, is the most potent symbol of His power and 
sovereignty ; as appears even from things daily before our eyes. 
" For consider all the affairs of the world: is there any, in the 
ordering and due combination whereof, this form does not occur ? 
There is no crossing the sea, except this triumphant sign, which, 
in that instance, is formed by what they call the yard-arm, remain 
entire in the vessel : neither without it is there any ploughing the 
land : neither those who dig in the ground, nor those who work in 
handicrafts, can perform their task, but by tools having this form : 
nay, and the human figure differs from animals without reason in 
nothing so much as in being erect, and in admitting extension of 
the hands each way :" (which association, we may remark by the 
way, Holy Scripture itself might suggest, by the posture of 
Moses ensuring the defeat of Amalek). But to proceed with 
Justin : " The human countenance," he adds, " bears this also 
as a mark of distinction from brutes, that from the forehead the 
line of the nose is drawn out with a sort of prominence ; so that 
where the breath of life is drawn, there the lines exhibit no other 
figure than that of the Cross : which the Prophet also hath 
thus expressed ^ : * The very breathing of our nostrils, is Christ 
the Lord.' Moreover your ensigns also," (he is speaking to the 
Caesars) " express majesty by this form, wherewith you every 
where solemnize your processions ; in them exhibiting the signs of 
your sovereignty and power. It is so, though it be unconsciously 
done on your part. When your emperors die, their images in this 
form are dedicated by you ; and in writing thereon, you style 
them gods." 

" Thus," he concludes, *' having urged you to the best of 
our power, both by reasoning, and by this appeal to a visible 
form, which is continually meeting your eyes, we consider 

1 2 Apol. p. 90. B. ' iii. 4. » Lamentations iv. 20. 

Reverence for the Cross, a Token of Faith in the Atonement. 31 

ourselves to have done our part, and not to be responsible, should § '<• 18. 
you remain unbelievers." 

(18.) One would have supposed, that at least the piety and good 
meaning of such trains of thought might remain unquestioned, 
by all believers in the Cross of Christ, whatever judgment might 
be formed on their logical accuracy. Yet, so it is, that on pas- 
sages of this kind a charge has been grounded against the Fathers, 
of directing the " faith of their readers to the efficacy of the figure 
of the Cross, rather than to the Atonement made thereon." A 
charge which might perhaps be tenable, could it be proved that 
the general views and conduct of the same Fathers were such as to 
contradict their truly believing the Atonement. Just as, if there 
were any persons, either in ancient or in modern times, who ob- 
served no rules of self-denial, we might conclude at once that any 
trust they had, or taught others to have, in " Christ crucified," 
was in fact a trust in a certain form of words, not in the virtue itself 
of that blessed sacrifice. What was the Cross, as employed by the 
Fathers, but a " Verbum visibile," recalling to the minds of the 
baptized the very truth which they were thus accused of slighting ; 
and to the heathen themselves conveying so much as this, that the 
Gospel was essentially a doctrine of the Cross, a doctrine of suf- 
fering in adherence to a crucified Redeemer ? As an expressive 
symbol, therefore, or word, the Sign of the Cross was liable to the 
same abuse with words in general : the self-deceit of man might 
enable him sometimes to acquiesce in the sign without the thing 
signified ; and such a caution might be occasionally needed, as 
Wesley is reported to have received from William Law : " Re- 
member that a man may deceive himself as easily by the phrase, 
'justification by faith,' as by any other combination of syllables." 
But supposing no such practical proof against them, may we 
not say, that the Fathers' veneration for the Cross is prima facie 
as much a proof of their receiving the doctrine of Christ crucified, 
as any form of words in which they could possibly have expressed 
themselves ? And there was this plain and material reason, for their 
preferring the visible symbol to any mode of speech, in treatises 
for general reading ; that they did not thereby convey more 
knowledge than the rule of the Cliurch allowed, to those who 
were without, while to every baptized believer they conveyed 

32 St. Cyprian's Allusion to the Wood of the Cross. 

§ ii. 19. intimations, deep and solemn in proportion to the depth of his 

(19.) But not only with the figure of the Cross, but with its 
material also, the piety of those times associated divine relations 
and recollections ; transferring, by an easy process, the mystical 
allusion, which the New Testament expressly sanctioned in the 
case of the ark, not only as before mentioned, to other scriptural 
facts, such as that of Elisha causing the iron to swim, but also to 
occasions of common life ; such, for example, as that mentioned 
by St. Cyprian, where he comforts certain imprisoned confessors, 
with thoughts, which to the world may seem merely enthusiastic 
and fanciful ; but let not us rashly apply such words to the 
reflections of holy men, suffering for the truth's sake, on the cir- 
cumstances of their trial ; circumstances which others might term 
casual, but which they feel to be providential. Thus, I say, St. 
Cyprian writes to Nemesianus and other confessors, condemned 
to the mines '. 

" The circumstance of your having been first beaten with 
staves, and by severe pain of that kind begun to solemnize 
the first glorious stage of your confession, has nothing in it that 
we need abhor or earnestly deprecate. For those limbs of yours, 
christened as they were, and having all their hope in the Wood of 
the Cross, shrank not for terror from the wood of the persecutors' 
staves. The sacrament and token of his salvation was recognized 
by the servant of Christ. Redeemed before by wood to eternal 
life, by wood in another form he now finds himself borne onwards 
to his crown." 

This passage may serve as a specimen of the manner, in 
which those first Christian moralists improved things, seemingly 
trivial, to spiritual associations. Those who merely make 
light of such allusions, know little of the real comfort they 
are calculated to give, to minds over depressed, perhaps, by sick- 
ness or privation. And may we not also say, they know but 
little, I fear we all know far less than we ought, of that serious 
and thankful frame of mind, which fears to accept such consola- 
tions, without owning a special Providence in them, and regarding 

» Ep. m. ed. Fell, p. 231. 

Irenceas associates the Cross n'lth the Tree oj Knowledge. 33 

them as real tokens of the greater blessing, with which they are § ii. 20. 
associated ? 

So far we have traced the chief mystical expositions, relating 
to the Passion of our Lord, in the epistle of St. Barnabas ; and 
we seem to perceive tliat they are but so many specimens (so 
to call them) of as many groupes of allusions, constantly occur- 
ring in the remains of the early Church. 

(20.) There is yet one other aspect, in which the Wood or Tree 
of the Cross was contemplated by the Church of the first ages, 
viz. as bearing a designed reference to the fatal wood, or tree of 
knowledge in Paradise. This is put plainly and forcibly by St. 
Irenaeus, (v. 17,) in a passage which it may be well to quote at 
length, as containing perhaps the best illustration that can be 
given of this whole subject. He is demonstrating the harmony 
of the Old and New Testaments, as different parts of the one 
great scheme of salvation. And having first pointed to the light 
thrown by the Incarnation of the Word on the statement, that 
man was created after God's image, he proceeds to argue on 
the Passion in the following way : 

" Not only thus did the Lord manifest both the Father and 
Himself, but also by His very Passion. For doing away with 
that disobedience of mankind, which from the beginning had 
taken place through the wood, or tree of knowledge, He be- 
came obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross." The 
rebellion, I say, which the one tree had occasioned. He heals by 
that submission, which was wrought in the other. Whereas, 
had He been announcing another Father, He could not, by this 
sameness of subject, have indicated His coming to do away with 
the disobedience which had been committed against our Creator. 
But inasmuch as the very same things, which occasioned our 
refusal to hear and obey God's word, were the instruments 
whereby He introduced obedience and entire conformity to His 
word. He openly shows Himself hereby to be that Goo, whom 
in the first Adam we offended, not j)erforming His command- 
ment ; but in the second Adam we are reconciled to the same, 
having become obedient unto death. For to no other were we 

VOL. VI. — 89. D 

34 No Mystical Allusions in Hennas, Ignatius, Polycarp, 

§ ii- 21. debtors, but to Hitn, whose commandment also we transgressed 
from the beginning." And presently after, " He hath blotted out 
the handwriting of our debt, and fixed it to His cross, that 
as by the tree we were made debtors to God, so by the tree we 
might receive remission of our debt. This hath been shown in 
symbol through many, but more especially through the prophet 
Eiisha." Then after relating the miracle as above quoted by 
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus proceeds : •' Thus by action the prophet 
showed, that the solid" (which word seems to mean 'enduring, 
irresistible") *' Word of God, which we through negligence had 
lost and could not find, we shall recover through the dispensation 
of the Tree or Wood. For that the axe is in some way a figure 
of the Word of God, St. John the Baptist shows, speaking of 
Him : ' Now also is the axe laid to the root of the trees.* 
And Jeremiah in like manner says, ' The Word of the Lord 
is an axe cleaving a rock \' Him, then, before hidden from 
us, the dispensation of the Tree or Wood hath now manifested. 
For since by the tree we lost Him, by the tree again He hath 
become evident unto all ; shewing in Himself the length, and 
height, and depth, and breadth ; and as one of our elders said, by 
the divine extension of His Hands, gathering the two peoples 
unto one God. For the hands are two, because there are also 
two peoples, scattered to the ends of the earth ; but the Head 
in the midst is one, because there is one God, who is over all, 
and through all, and in us all." 

(21.) In the other Apostolic Fathers, I do not know that more 
than one instance occurs of the mystical mode of interpretation ; 
but nothing is to be concluded from this omission, inasmuch as we 
seldom or never find either Hermas, Ignatius, or Polycarp, 
quoting the Old Testament at all. St. Hermas indeed hardly 
quotes the New, perhaps because the parabolical air of his 
treatise was better preserved by avoiding such definite allusions ; 
or because (which seems not improbable) the sacred Books, 
many of them, had not yet come into his hands. And of the 
other two venerable Saints, it may be observed in general, that 
» C. xxiii. 29. 

St. Clement of Rome on the History of Rahah. S5 

in no part of their writings had they occasion to enter into § ii. 21. 
debate, either with Jews or with impugners of the Old Testa- 
ment ; which two controversies generally called forth the mystical 
principle of interpretation in the subsequent age. 

But in the epistle of St. Clement there is a well-known pas- 
sage, which proves that by him, at least, that mode of exposi- 
tion was neither unknown nor disapproved. Having related 
the history of the harlot Rahab, as an argument of God's 
blessing on faith as shown by hospitality, he proceeds ' : " They 
went on to give her a sign, viz. that she should hang a scarlet 
thread from her house ; foretokening this, that by the blood of 
the Lord shall be redemption to all who believe and hope in 
God. Behold, my beloved : not only faith, but prophecy was 
in this woman." As if he had said, "It was not a simple case 
of an individual sinner of the Gentiles preserved by faith ; but 
God so highly favoured her, as to make her person and history a 
prophecy by action, of the salvation which should be by the Cross." 

Now this single instance, well considered, appears to bring 
the question of the mystical interpretation, as it were, to a 
point. Here is a writer (one is more than half afraid to speak 
in such a tone of one who came so very near the Apostles, 
but, if we must so speak of him, here is a writer) of the very 
highest human claims ; the chosen, ordained friend of St. Paul 
and St. Peter ; a person of the greatest practical good sense, as 
every part of his epistle shows ; full of deep piety, and reverence 
for the holy Scriptures of God ; of a flowing style, and abundant 
in resources both of imagery and of language, so that he was not 
under the temptation, which an ordinary writer might feel, of 
inserting such topics as happened to present themselves, whether 
satisfied with them himself or no : moreover, he was evidently 
not carried away by a passion for allegorical interpretation as 
such, as is proved by the fact that this of Rahab is the solitary 
instance in which he employs it. Now, can we believe that such 
a person, so circumstanced, writing in the most solemn way on the 
most sacred of all subjects, and on an occasion which must have 
recalled most forcibly the memory of St. Paul, his father in the 
' 1 Kp. ad Cor. c. xii. 
D 2 

36 Rahab's Scarlet Thread, its Mystical Meaning: 

§ ii. 21. faith, not long since dead : — can we believe that he could have 
delivered such an exposition, and applied to it the sacred name 
of Prophecy, publicly and authoritatively, speaking as he did for 
the Cliurch, and not for himself only : — had he not been sure that 
he was uttering the mind of the Holy Ghost ? I much fear that 
we do but betray our own comparative irreverence and indif- 
ference towards God's holy and awful truth, when we are forward 
to suspect His favoured and accredited servants of such light 
extemporal dealing with His word. Surely the less violent sup- 
position is, that St. Clement knew what he was saying, when he 
thus taught or rather reminded the Church (for he speaks not as 
conveying a new truth, but rather as exemplifying one already 
acknowledged) that the colour of scarlet, providentially em- 
ployed as a token and means of deliverance, was an earnest of 
the Atoning Blood, to be sprinkled, like that of the Paschal 
Lamb, over the door-ways of those who should be heirs of 
salvation. Whereby he has also confirmed the analogous 
interpretation of those places, where scarlet is enjoined as the 
colour to be used in sprinkling and other legal purgations ; and 
has sanctioned the notion of the many subsequent writers, by 
whom that colour, whether found in Scripture or in nature, is 
constantly regarded as olKsioy (to speak rhetorically) to the 
Passion of our Lord : as much intended among colours to sym- 
bolize His Blood, as the shape of the Cross among forms, or its 
materia), wood, among substances. 

Whatever warrant he had for saying what he has said of 
the call of Rahab, the same, or like it, Tertullian (e. g.) 
may have had, for referring the text in Isaiah', — "Though 
yaur sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow : though 
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool ;" — to the 
different degrees of guilt incurred by the Jews, first as murderers 
of tlie prophets, afterwards as crucifiers of our Lord. *' The word 
crimson," says he, " denotes the blood of the Prophets ; scarlet, 
that of the Lord, as excelling in lustre." Irenseus again, mixing 
up his commentary with thoughts yet more awful ' ; " Rahab 
the harlot, condemning herself as a heathen guilty of all kinds of 
1 i. 18. » iv. 37. 

confirmed out of Irenceus and Justin. 37 

sin, received and hid within her home" (he does not say two, but § ii. 21. 
three spies or watchers) " the Three Explorers who were explor- 
ing the whole earth, the Father namely, and the Son, with the 
Holy Ghost." Which words are not be so understood, as if 
Irenaeus were affirming the Three Divine Persons to have then 
revealed themselves visibly and personally ; since it is a material 
part of the main argument of his work, to show that all visible 
manifestations of the Eternal Father, in the times of the Old 
Testament, were made through the only-begotten Sox : but he 
means, apparently, that Rahab and those like her, receiving those 
who come in God's Name, do in fact receive Him. He goes on 
with the history of Rahab; "When the whole city where she 
dwelt had fallen into ruin at the sound of the seven trumpets, in 
that extremity Rahab the harlot was preserved with her whole 
house, by the faith implied in that sign of the scarlet thread : 
even as the Lord declared to those who would not receive His 
Advent, to the Pharisees, and such as make light of the sign of 
the scarlet robe, which was also a token of the Passover, the re- 
demption and withdrawing of the people from Egypt, — to the 
despisers thereof, I say, the Lord declared, ' The publicans and 
harlots take place of you in the kingdom of heaven.' " And Jus- 
tin, in like manner ; adding a remark, that the messengers were 
sent by Him who bore the Name of Jesus ^ ; " The symbol of the 
scarlet line denoted the token of Christ's Blood, whereby men of 
all nations, formerly impure and unjust, are saved, receiving 
remission of sins, and sinning no more." 

On this whole history we may remark, as on that of Jacob" be- 
fore, that it bears on a critical point in the progress of the great 
dispensation, and on the continuation of the sacred line in which 
Christ was to be born. Also, that each of the successive writers 
(and the chain might be continued much further) notices, not 
ambitiously but naturally, some circumstance unobserved by his 
predecessors ; so that the whole, taken together, forms an allegory 
much more complete and striking, than we find in either of the 
statements taken singly. Dare any man deny, that these are 
great marks of Truth, even according to our modern measures, 
incompetent as they obviously are to these investigations ? 
> Dial, cum Tryph p. 338. D. ; Ed. Paris, 1636. 

38 St. Augustm s Rule vf mystical Exposition. 

§ iii. 1. (22.) We have thus endeavoured to trace one set of mystical allu- 
sions, those, namely, which are drawn from the circumstances of our 
Lord's Passion, through the interpretations of the Old Testament, 
left us by the Apostolic Fathers ; and also to illustrate them 
from the Fathers of the next generation, so far as to give some 
idea of the kind of consent, in their mode of expounding, which is 
found among them all : an agreement not in minute particulars, 
as if they borrowed from one another, nor yet as if they 
were bound down in common by any strict ritual, or hiero- 
glyphical alphabet ; but rather in a way which cannot, perhaps, 
be better expressed, than in the words of St. Augustin\ where he 
lays down the principle which guided him in the investigation of 
historical types. " These secrets of Divine Scripture we trace 
out as we may, one more or less aptly than another, but as be- 
comes faithful men, holding thus much for certain ; that not with- 
out some kind of foreshadowing of future events, were these 
things done and recorded ; and that to Christ only, and His 
Church, the City of God, are they to be referred in every 
instance," so far as they are figurative. 

On the true cause of this very general agreement, some consi- 
derations will be offered hereafter, which may at least have the 
effect of helping us all to think with seriousness of heart, on a 
subject, which scholars in general have, perhaps, been apt to treat 
over-lightly, not to say profanely ; so that, in speaking of it, a 
person insensibly falls into the apologetic tone. But tlie more we 
really come to know and think of it, the more deeply, perhaps, 
shall we feel, that even that tone is inexcusable presumption, 
compared with what would become us, in making mention of 
those who come nearest the Apostles, and had in greatest per- 
fection the mind of Christ. 

§ iii. — The Literal Sense left entire by the Mysticism of the Church. 

No impression, I believe, is more general among ordinary 
readers of theology, than this ; that beyond a strong tendency to 
allegory, the Fathers had no definite principles at all, by which to 

» De Civ. Dei, xvi. 2. 

Supposed Vagueness of the mystical Exposition. 39 

interpret Scripture, but only employed, in a rhetorical way, what- § '»• 2. 
ever allusions best served the purpose of the moment. A 
remarkable and not a very encouraging fact, if such really were 
the case, that such a series of distinguished writers, — writers 
whom their very censurers ' allow to have greatly exceeded the 
mass of their contemporaries, — zealously applying themselves to 
this one work, and with a devotion and reverence as sincere, 
in very many cases, as martyrdom could prove it ; — that these 
should have gone on quite at random, and have been right, when 
they were right, only by a happy chance. Nor would it seem 
easy to reconcile such a statement with our Lord's command to 
search the Scriptures, and with His implied and express pro- 
mises of spiritual aid ; unless we were prepared to maintain, what 
all history contradicts, that the Fathers either neglected the 
Bible, or forfeited the promise of aid in the study of it by gross 
heresy, or insincerity, proved by ill conduct. 

But is the fact so, that they were without principles of inter- 
pretation ? Is it not rather our want of steady attention and re- 
verential industry in examining the whole subject, which makes 
it seem so to us ? It is readily allowed that there exists a pecu- 
liar difficulty, in evolving the patristical rules for expounding 
Scripture, on which difficulty something will be presently said. 
But that some such principles, however latent, do exist, we 
might confidently gather from this one fact ; that no one, toler- 
ably versed in their writings, would fail to detect their style of 
interpretation, wherever he met with it, by something in its air 
and tone ; something not the less real, because it may be to us 
indescribable in words. Let any one, for example, compare the 
commentary of Quesnel on the New Testament, or that of 
Wogan on the Proper Lessons, both which are expressly founded 
on the ancient glosses, with the explanations of Scripture inter- 
spersed in the " Pilgrim's Progress." Both being to a high 
degree allegorical, he will yet find the one throughout of a differ- 
ent caste and family from the other. 

(2.) Now it is no wonder if we find it difficult to seize in distinct 
thought, and embody in language, the exegetic principles of the 
> See Warburton, Int. to Julian, Works, iv. 340, 341. Ed. 1788. 

40 How we may best enter into the Fathers' Meaning. 

§ "'• 3- old Church writers, since, in all probability, few, if any, of them 
were ever able to do so for themselves. With an instinctive 
skill, acquired, in part at least, by long and zealous training of 
themselves in that one department, they felt when any ex- 
position or conjecture, which occurred to them, was (to use their 
own word) Ecclesiastical, and when otherwise. It was a happy 
sagacity, which could afford to dispense with all manner of 
critical and argumentative development. They were natives, 
and could speak the language idiomatically, without stopping to 
recollect rules of grammar. 

And here we seem to have no inconsiderable proof, that the 
mystical interpretation was no result of a theory subsequently 
introduced among Christians ; it was not this or that writer's 
importation or invention, but it was from the beginning habitually 
inwrought into the thoughts and language of the Catholic Church. 

Hereby also we have suggested to us a way for attaining to a 
virtual knowledge of their rules of interpretation, though we 
perhaps may never be able, any more than they were, to trace 
out those rules in language. We have only to exercise ourselves 
much and deeply in their expositions of Holy Writ, and in the 
same devout observances which we know they kept up, and we 
too shall gain by degrees their practised eye — i^ i/iireipiag o/JiJia 
— whereby to discern their first principles. This would be one 
way, and on every account the best way, of convincing ourselves 
that the mysticism of the early interpreters is not the vague, 
unsettled, dreamy kind of view, which many of us are at first 
hearing apt to imagine. We may set ourselves to study the 
examples of it thoroughly in detail : and finding, as we shall in 
a great proportion of them, a great deal more than we had 
expected, we shall gradually and surely learn, both to value the 
method more highly, and to understand it better. 

(3.) With this view, some examples have been given above : 
examples purposely selected, many of them, as the likeliest 
to startle and scandalize a mere modern reader ; and some- 
thing, it is hoped, has been done towards showing, that in 
those cases at least the holy Fathers well knew what they 
were about ; that they proceeded, in interpreting Scripture, on 

Ancient Mysticism assumed the Truth of Scriplure History. 41 

tlie surest ground — the warrant of Scripture itself in analogous §iii. 4, 5. 

Another process, leading to the same conclusion, would be to 
examine, fairly and fully, whether there be not certain limitations 
which the Fathers carefully observe in their application of the 
mystical method ; certain bounds within which they confine 
themselves, as did champions of old within the rules of the 
tourney, in the utmost heat and speed of their career. Some 
indeed of these rules are laid down in express words by the more 
exact and argumentative of the Fathers : others we may gather 
with sufficient assurance from the comparison of their comments. 
To this subject, then, the limitations of the mystical exposition, as 
they were generally recognised by Antiquity, we are to address 
ourselves in the present stage of the inquiry. 

(4.) The first and most obvious of these rules of limitation was, 
not to lose sight of the letter ; to reserve in every mystical com- 
ment the foundation of historical and literal truth. This, as 
all men know, is one of the points on which the Fathers have 
been most confidently assailed ; but, as a few plain considera- 
tions will show, most unjustly. 

For, first, the evidences of the Christian religion were from 
the beginning chiefly historical : such as the records of the life 
of Christ, the ministration of the Apostles, and the facts by 
which, in the old dispensation, God had authorized His messages 
by His prophets. The faith had been received in the first 
instance, as to the main body of it, in the plain literal and histo- 
rical sense. It was so accepted by the mass of believers, as the 
Old Testament had ever been by the mass of the Jews ; and surely 
appeal might be made without hesitation to those who are really 
versed in Christian Antiquity, whether even the most daring mys- 
tics among them do not all along assume the truth of the history ; 
whether the mere allegory, which they sometimes appear to main- 
tain, be at worst more than an exception to a general law ; a 
resort in difficulties ; a solecism, not a rule. 

(5.) But secondly, if in any case they seem to press the allegory 
beyond this, there are considerations which would lead a sound 
critic to be cautious in urging their statements in that kind 

42 The Fathers, not rejined Critics, 

§ iii. 5. further than their very words obh'ge us to go. There are reasons 
which should induce us to give them all the benefit of any 
qualification or ambiguity which their expressions admit of, — to 
construe all that is equivocal in favour of the literal meaning. 
Were they not in a great measure free from some of the tempta- 
tions, which have ever been found most effective, in inducing 
inconsiderate commentators to deal over freely with the letter of 
the Divine Records ? These temptations have commonly arisen, 
on the one hand, from oyer refinement in philosophical and moral 
subjects ; on the other hand, from critical skill, and dexterity in 
sifting statements on matters of fact. Of the first head, philo- 
sophical and moral allegory, something will be said by-and- 
by, when we come to the case of those Fathers, who are allowed 
to have erred in exaggerating the mystical sense. But their 
general deficiency in critical and historical acuteness is noto- 
riously one of the most popular charges against them, and one 
of the reasons most frequently given for not deferring to their 
authority in Scripture interpretation. Those who judge so of 
them, must at least allow that they were, so far, exempt from 
that temptation to take liberties with the text of Scripture, 
which historical and critical difficulties continually offer. 

For example, had Origen been as unversed in critical discus- 
sion, as were, on this hypothesis, the majority of the Fathers, he 
would not have been driven, by a supposed chronological diffi- 
culty, to throw discredit generally on the letter of the evange- 
lical narrative. So at least he is supposed to have done, in com- 
menting on St. John's account of our Saviour's return to 
Galilee after the temptation. Not finding how to reconcile that 
account with those of the other Evangelists, he says ', (if his words 
indeed are rightly so translated,) " The truth concerning these 
things must needs be lodged out of sight in their secondary and 
spiritual signification. The discrepancy being so accounted for, 
we need not relax in any measure our faith regarding the Gospel 
narratives, as though they were either untrue, or destitute of any 
peculiar divine inspiration, or failing in their proper office as 

' In Joan. t. x. c. 2. 

Advantage of this illustrated from Origen. 43 

rnemorials." Then having stated the difficulty at length, he § iii. G. 
concludes, " In this and many cases besides, whoever will care- 
fully examine the Gospels with a view to any disagreement in 
the narrative, it will either cause him with a sort of mental 
giddiness to give up the claim of the Gospels to absolute autho- 
rity, and chuse one of them at random to adhere to, as not ven- 
turing to repudiate entirely the faith of our Lord ; or, if he still 
admit all four, he will consider their truth to be lodged some- 
where else, than in the outward material words, and letters, and 
syllables." The amount of Origen's meaning in this passage 
may perhaps be a subject of discussion by-and-by. At present 
it is quoted simply for the sake of pointing out the danger 
incurred by habits of searching criticism, viz. that it leads men, 
on discovering flaws, to them, incurable, to think more slightly 
than they ought of the letter of the Bible altogether. It is the 
genius of modern philology, to cut all such knots, by expressing 
or insinuating more or less of doubt, as to the plenary inspira- 
tion of the Scriptures. Some of the ancients, not perhaps more 
logically, but with at least as much of religious awe and rever- 
ence, had recourse, we see, in the like cases, to the supposition 
of mere allegory intermixed with the truth. But the far greater 
number of them, being, as their opponents complain, quite 
" uncritical," i. e. taking the text as they found it, and not 
perplexing themselves with difficulties of construction and 
harmony, were free at least from this one undue bias towards 
the secondary sense. 

(6.) A still stronger and more universal preservative must have 
been the unfeigned and singular veneration, with which they ever 
regarded the Holy Book. Whatever else may be laid to the 
Fathers' charge, even the most scornful and bitter of their censors 
have been constrained to admit the paramount value which they 
set on their Bibles, and their thorough acquaintance with them. 
Even where they mysticised improperly, their ordinary motive 
was a sincere veneration for the Scriptures ; whose dignity, they 
sometimes with some plausibility argued, could not stand with 
the literal sense. This was a shortsighted and erroneous feeling, 
so far as it may have wanted that wise and simple faith, which 

44 The Fathers' great Reoerence for the Bible : 

§ iii. 6. would have caused them at once to receive the very letter, without 
hoping or pretending to explain all difficulties. Still, there was 
a feeling here of affectionate and dutiful though mistaken loyalty ; 
like St. Peter's, when he took hold of our Lord and began to 
rebuke and contradict Him ; saying, " Be it far from Thee, Lord ; 
this shall not be unto Thee." 

Accordingly, when Origan goes off to the mystical sense, it 
is with him almost always a matter of reverent and earnest 

Thus, having given a careful and sensible commentary on the 
literal account in Genesis of the building of the ark, he proceeds * : 
" Now, first beseeching His indulgence, who alone is able to 
withdraw the veil from the reading of the Old Testament, let us 
try and make out what spiritual edification also is contained in 
the raising of this august fabrick, the ark." 

Again, in his exposition of the parable of the unmerciful servant*: 
" It is no small matter to express, according to the full mean- 
ing of our Saviour, who are meant by the various persons intro- 
duced in this parable : . . . indeed, the very truth of these things, 
I am bold to affirm, no one shall be able to utter, unless the same 
Jesus, who privately expounded these things to His own disci- 
ples, have entered in to dwell in his mind, and open there all tiie 
treasures contained in the parable ; dark, hidden, far out of sight. 
.... I, for my part, — as one who has not yet obtained in suf- 
ficiency that mind which can thoroughly penetrate and mingle 
with the mind of Christ, that mind which can go on and reach 
to the end of so great things, that mind which, aided by the 
Spirit, can search all, even the depths of God — am able as yet to 
form but an indefinite notion of the details of this passage." 

The expression of awe is, perhaps, still more remarkable, when 
he draws back from an interpretation which he had actually 
entered on : as one who caught himself unawares intruding 
further into the sanctuary than he had intended. It is on the 
Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard ' : " Seeking out," he 

» Horn. 2. in Gen. § 3. t. ii. 63. A. Ed. Bened. 1733. 
' Comm. in Matt. xiv. § 11. t. iii. G21). B, C, E. 
« In Matt. XV, § 31. t. iii. 699. B. 

Examples from Origen and St. Augustin, 45 

says, " What might be the ' one day,* which limits the time of this § iii- 7. 
parable, .... 1 have unwarily taken some steps into certain ot 
the deeps of Almighty God ; lacking as I do that Spirit which 
searcheth all things, even the deep things of God." 

Surely the tone of mind here apparent could not exist, without 
a profound veneration for the letter itself and literal meaning, the 
garb and outward vehicle of truths so revered and precious. Surely 
it could have been only by comparison, if ever the same writers 
seem to disparage the letter. And in fact we find that few 
authors have done more for the elucidation of the historical sense, 
or given more unsparingly the best practical proof of reverence, 
unwearied religious diligence in trying to understand. So that 
with respect to the threefold method of interpretation, which he 
is known to have generally adopted, a partial judge might almost 
say of him, and of others like him, as contrasted with modern 
inquirers, that he had three Bibles to read, and we but one ; not 
a jot or tittle failing in his reverence for the body of the sacred 
Book, compared with ours, while he enjoys, what we generally 
want, the privilege of contemplating its soul and spirit also. 

(7.) Now, if even Origen, the known champion of the allegorical 
method, felt and practised such regard for the Letter of Scripture, 
it is surely unnecessary to multiply quotations, in proof of the 
general opinion of the Church on that subject : her impartial 
veneration for the whole of the Divine Book, her deep, faithful, 
and imdoubting reception of every part, both in its obvious and 
in its abstract senses, according to the fulness of the meaning of 
the Spirit of God. There is a striking passage in St. Augustin, 
which collects, as it were, into a point, the confessions on this 
head of every generation of believers ' : " The style itself in 
which Holy Scripture is framed, how open is it to every one's 
approach, how impossible to be searched out by any but a very 
few ! What things it contains that are obvious and open, those, 
like a familiar friend, it speaks simply to the heart, both of un- 
learned and learned. As to those, on the other hand, which it 
hides in mysteries, neither does it elevate them by lofty speech, 
such as might deter from a nearer approach the dull and untaught 
1 Ep. 137. § 18. t. ii, p. 310. 

46 Doctrinal Views of the Fathers 

§ iii. 8, mind, as a poor man sometimes fears to approach a rich one ; 
but Scripture invites all by a lowly kind of speech, intending not 
only to feed all with obvious truth, but also to exercise and 
prove all by that truth which is remote from view : having in its 
easy parts whatever its hard parts contain. But lest being open 
to view, they should incur contempt, the same truths again are 
made desirable by concealment ; to meet the desire, they are, as 
it were, produced anew ; and being so renewed, they insinuate 
themselves with a kind of delight. Thus wholesome correction 
is provided for corrupt minds, wholesome nourishment for feeble 
rninds, and wholesome enjoyment for great minds. That mind 
alone is set against this teaching, which either through error 
knows not its healing power, or through sickness loathes it as 
medicine." Men 'who were so minded towards the whole Book 
of God, — would it not require overpowering evidence to convince 
us that they commonly passed by with disdain the letter of 
Scripture ? yet they have been charged with no less than this. 

(8.) The improbability of such allegations becomes yet more 
glaring, when we take into account the universal cast and tenour 
of the Fathers' doctrinal views. This is a consideration, indirectly 
indeed, yet really and materially, bearing on the present discus- 
sion. Ever since the Church began, she has felt that she had to 
guard against a tendency to over-refinement and affected spi- 
rituality. There has been danger lest the body, so to call it, of 
important truths, should be exhausted and exhaled away, in their 
supposed moral and imaginative meaning. This is the error of the 
people called Friends, and in general of the rationalists of modern 
days. It was also the error of the Gnostics of old, who denied, as 
is well known, the reality of the Incarnation and Passion of our 
LoBD, the Resurrection of the Body, the identity of the Creator 
with the Redeemer; and whatever other portions of Christian 
belief appeared to them in any way mixed up with things outward, 
material, and bodily. Against these, in the beginning as now, 
the Church of God always protested, maintaining the literal 
reality of these Truths, as she now maintains the real efficacy of 
material Sacraments, in opposition to the refinements of philo- 
sophy and vain deceit. Now it was a sort of index to this first 

a Security against the mere /Allegory. 47 

heretical school, their denying the historical meaning of Holy § iii. 8. 
Scripture ; as may be seen in many parts of Irenaeus. His state- 
ments are like the following' : " These vainest of sophists main- 
tain that the Apostles taught not truly but feignedly, according to 
the capacity of their hearers ; that they framed their answers to 
suit the prejudices of those who at any time were asking them 
questions ; discoursing with the blind blindly, according to their 
blindness, and with the sick according to their sickness, and 
witli the erring according to their error. Thus, to such as 
imagined that the Creator was the only God, they made Him 
the subject of their preaching; but to those who were able to 
receive the unutterable Father, they administered by parables 
and allegories the unspeakable mystery : thus making it out 
that our Lord and His Apostles gave instruction, not according 
to the tenor of the very truth, but in pretence, and according to 
the capacity of each." 

Such are the complaints brought against heretical theorists, by 
the ecclesiastical writers of those days. Had we no direct 
evidence on the subject, passages of this sort would warrant us 
in concluding, that the early Church held to the literal Scripture 
as her foundation, whatever superstructure of mystical or moral 
truth she might know and believe herself entitled to build upon 
it. For there is a natural and very distinct analogy between the 
doctrines which reject the body, and the expositions which 
reject the letter. We perceive at once that they belong in their 
several kinds to the same turn of mind, the same school of 
opinions. And on the other hand, the straightforward unflinch- 
ing faith, which is always content to take God's work as He has 
made it, will of course be willing also to accept His word as He 
has taught it. " When I hear of grass," says St. BasiP, remark- 
ing on the excessive proneness to the mere allegory, by which 
some had explained away the history in the first chapter of 
Genesis, " when I hear of grass, I understand it to mean grass, 
and so of plants, and fishes, and beasts, and cattle ; all of them, as 
they are spoken, so I receive. For neither am 1 ashamed of the 

» HI. 5. ' Hexaem. ix. 1. 

48 The early Heretics apt to deny the Letter, 

iii. 9. Gospel." And a little further on : " In the oracles of the Spirit 
I desire to g^lorify Him, who has not employed our understanding 
on vain things, but has dispensed all so as to be written for our 
ediBcation, and the perfecting of our souls. Of which truth, as I 
think, some not being aware, have tried, by I know not what 
allurements and figures of speech, to get the Scriptures credit for 
a kind of dignity, which in fact is of their own devising. But this 
is to make one's self wiser than the oracles of the Spirit, and 
under the show of interpretation, covertly to introduce matter of 
our own. As it is written then, so let our understanding be." 

(9.) There occurs, however, in the history of early corruptions 
one case, which would appear at first sight to militate strongly 
against the reality of the connexion here supposed, between 
fantastic doctrine and interpretation merely allegorical. I mean 
the case of Marcion of Pontus. He distinguished himself from 
the main body of the heretics of his time, by denying that 
Scripture was ever to be understood in any sense but that of 
the bare letter : at the same time that he agreed with them in 
rejecting the truth of Christ's Body, the resurrection of our 
bodies, and the other doctrines above alluded to. 

But see what line Marcion was obliged to take, in conse- 
quence of this extraordinary combination of opinions. He 
boldly discarded the whole of the Old Testament, as the work of 
an evil, at least of an inferior being. He retained moreover of 
the New Testament only one Gospel, St. Luke's, and the Epistles 
of St. Paul. And to make these at all seem to bear witness in 
his favour, he was constrained to dislocate and alter the text to 
a very considerable extent. 

It is not within our present scope to show how inconsistent, 
after all, his admitted Scriptures were with his shadows of doc- 
trine : Tertullian has done so at large, and with more, if possible, 
than his usual acuteness, in his two last books against Marcion : 
but the point material to be here noticed is, his sympathizing 
with the other heretics, and contradicting the Catholic Church, 
in his irreverence for the letter of Scripture : the only difference 
being, that he chose rather to take the ground of the Jews of 
his time, and, in eflfect, that of our modern rationalists, by denying 

Apparent, not real, Exception in the Marcionites. 49 

the inspiration of the portions which most perplexed him ; instead § iii. 10. 
of wresting them as most heretics did, by various figures, to his 
own construction. 

Thus it appears that the proceedings of Marcion form no 
such exception as should invalidate the general rule ; and tlie 
position stands good, that the Church of the Fathers, main- 
taining as it did the doctrines which the Docetao denied, was 
very unlikely to give undue sanction to their merely allegorical 
mode of interpreting Scripture; just as the same Church, even 
yet, arguing with rationalists, refuses to admit that " fire in 
the prophecy of St. John the Baptist is quenched with the name 
of the Holy Ghost, or with the name of the Spirit, water dried 
up in the words of Christ V' concerning the new birth. 

(10.) The drift of all these antecedent probabihties is this: that 
whatever affirmations aire found in ecclesiastical writers strongly 
in favour of the letter of holy Scripture, are to be credited for 
their full apparent amount ; but for those comparatively rare 
instances in which they have permitted themselves to speak 
lightly of the literal meaning, every kind of allowance ought 
to be made ; they must be taken, so to speak, at a considerable 

Consider, for example, the opening sentences of St. Augustin's 
treatise, " De Genesi ad literam '." "The whole Scripture 
of God is twofold ; according to the intimation of our Lord, 
when He said, • Every scribe instructed into the kingdom of 
heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, bringing out 
of his treasure things new and old.' .... In the relation there- 
fore of things done, one has always to inquire whether each 
particular is to be received in the figurative sense only, or to 
be affirmed and maintained as to the actual verity of the 
facts. For to deny that there are things to be figuratively 
understood no Christian man will venture, remarking the words 
of the Apostle, ' All these things befel them in figure ;' as also 
where he commends to us as a great mystery relating to Christ 

» Hooker, E. P. v. 50. 3. 
' t. iii. pars 1. p. 90 ; Ed. Bened. 1702. 
VOL. VI. — 89. E 

50 Si. Augustin's jealous care of the Literal Sense. 

§ iii. 10. and the Church, the expression in Genesis, ' And they two shall 
be one flesh.* " 

This place has been quoted ^ as an instance of extravagance 
in urging the secondary sense, on account, probably, of the 
possibility intimated in one part of it, that in some cases there 
may be no true literal or historical sense. But according to the 
rule above laid down for interpreting the Fathers on this subject, 
it is but fair to understand by St. Augustin's doubtful cases, those 
which may reasonably be considered more or less parabolical ; 
such as Nathan's reproof of David, or our Lord's account of 
the Prodigal Son. It would be doing him injustice, to charge 
him with throwing doubt hereby on any part of the series of 
sacred history. 

On the other hand, when we find the same Father arguing as 
follows in favour of the reality of Paradise, and of the history of 
our first parents, we need not hesitate to believe, that he meant 
his argument to extend, as by parity of reasoning it would extend, 
to every other portion of the regular inspired narrative. *' ThoseS" 
says he, " of our faith, who believe these divine books, but like 
not to have Paradise understood according to the very letter, i. e. 
a most pleasant place, shaded with groves of fruit trees, of 
immense extent, too, and fertilized by a copious fountain ; seeing 
as they do, without any labour of man, so many green glades over- 
shadowed with forests by the secret working of the Almighty : — 
I wonder how they believe the corresponding narrative of the 
formation of the man in a way like nothing which ever met their 
eyes. Or if that, too, must be understood figuratively ; who begat 
Cain, Abel, and Seth ? Were they likewise mere figures, not 
men born of mankind? I would advise men, therefore, narrowly 
to consider what is the drift of the notion they are inclined to 
assume, and to endeavour with us to understand all things, related 
as facts in the first instance, as they are literally expressed. That 
once done, every one will look kindly on their views of what the 
same things teach also by figurative expression, either of spiritual 

• Whitby, Pref. in Diss, de Interp. S. S. p. Iviii. 
' De Genes, ad lit. viii. 4. 

In what Case St. Augustin allowed the mere Allegory. 51 

natures tliemsclves and spiritual processes, or of events yet to § iii. 10. 

" I grant that if we could not receive in a bodily sense the things 
here named as bodily, witho\it doing violence to the faith of the 
truth, nothing would remain but that we must understand them 
to be figurative expressions, rather than cast impious reflections 
on Holy Scripture. But if the bodily acceptation of these things 
be so far from embarrassing, that it rather more firmly establishes, 
the general statements of God's word, I should not expect to 
find any one so full of heathenish obstinacy, as to abide by any 
old opinion, which he may have formed in favour of the mere 
allegorical exposition, after seeing the whole explained literally 
in accordance with the Rule of Faith." 

He then proceeds to state, as the very occasion of his writing 
that treatise, a wish to improve on a former exposition of Genesis 
which he had undertaken against the Manichaeans; and in which, 
not being able at that time to make out the literal meaning, he had 
assigned to many things an interpretation merely allegorical ^ 
" Still," says he, " even then, keeping in mind that which was all 
along chiefly in my wish though beyond my power, viz. that every 
thing in the first instance should be understood not in figure but 
literally, and not despairing altogether tiiat such an understanding 
might be acquired, I expressed that feeling in the opening of the 
second book. My words are, ' Whosoever desires to understand 
every thing according to the sound of the letter, provided he can 
avoid blasphemies, and all that he affirms be agreeable to the 
Catholic Faith, his labours must not be taken grudgingly : rather 
we must account of him as understanding the Scriptures in the 
proper sense of the word, understanding.' " That such from the 
beginning was St. Augustin's feeling, — that he always preferred 
the literal sense as the foundation, and only had recourse to the 
purely figurative, when, as he conceived the analogy of the faith 
required it, — he gave the most satisfactory proof, by going over 
the same ground, writing a more literal commentary, when in 
process of time maturer reflection had brought to his knowledge 
more of the literal meaning. 

* De Gen. ad lit. viii. 5. 
£ 2 

52 The mere Allegory used to save the Rule of Faith. 

§ iii. 11, 12. (11.) I say, when the analogy of the faith required it; for this is 
a very remarkable circumstance in the patrislical mode of deviat- 
ing from the letter of Scripture, especially as compared with those 
adopted by more modern interpreters : viz. that whereas these 
latter are commonly moved to set it aside by some apparent 
inconsistency with the truths of philosophy or history, some 
scruple of human reason ; the only sufficient plea for such devia- 
tion, in the judgment of such critics as St. Augustin, was the 
impossibility of reconciling the letter with the Rule of Faith. 
Thus, in the passage quoted above, the excepted cases are 
described as follows : " Si nullo modo possent salvafide veritatis 
corporaliter accipi :" " Si nullus exitus datur, ut pie et digne Deo 
quae scripta sunt intelligantur, nisi figurate proposita credamus." 

And let it not be imagined that by the phrase, " pie et digne 
Deo," a door is opened for the unlimited intrusion of each person's 
private judgment. The phrase is sufficiently explained by one 
which had occurred a few lines above : " preedicare omnia con- 
gruentia fidei catholicae." That was to be judged pious and wor- 
thy of God, which agreed not with this or that man's preconceived 
notions of the Divine proceedings and attributes, but with the body 
of Scriptural truth set forth by the Church from the beginning. 

If, then, we may suppose St. Augustin here to speak the general 
sense of ecclesiastical writers on this subject, we shall see that 
the utmost extent to which the Church encouraged the use of the 
exposition by mere allegory, was to bear with it as a possible or 
at most as a probable hypothesis, in cases where the letter 
seemed irreconcileable with the analogy of the Faith ; always 
allowing for the chance of some more favoured commentator 
solving the difficulty without this extreme resort. 

(12.) But the true ecclesiastical rule of interpretation will be 
put in a stronger light, if we consider the case of Origen and his 
school, and the degree in which they incurred the suspicion, if not 
the censure of the Cluirch. And we may notice, by the way, a 
remarkable instance of the hard measure which has been dealt 
out to the Fathers by those who were resolved, at all events, for 
whatever reason, to derogate from their authority. It is the 
usual manner of proceeding, with such writers as Daille, Whitby, 

Unfair Mode of Arguing on Ongen's Case. 53 

Middleton, and the rest, to quote largely from the censures of § iii. 13. 
St. Jerome and others, pronounced on the Origenists for their ex- 
travagance in the allegorical way, and then to turn suddenly round 
and use these same censures, as if they were applicable to the 
whole body of the Fathers; especially to St. Jerome himself 
and the rest who were eager in promulgating them. 

But surely the censure might speak the opinion of the Church, 
though, from human infirmity and inconsistency, the persons 
pronouncing it might themselves incur it elsewhere. 

Again, it should be well considered whether St. Jerome, St. 
Basil, and others commonly quoted on this matter, are depreca- 
ting the allegorical system itself, or only the particular abuse of it 
now under examination, viz. the occasional suppression of the 
letter for the allegory's sake. It may be some help towards 
estimating rightly the judgment of the Fathers on the whole sub- 
ject, if a few words be here added, first on the real amount of 
the concessions of the Alexandrian scliool in disparagement of the 
letter ; next on the real amount of Church censure, properly so 
called, which that school incurred, on tliat ground, in the person 
of Origen, the most renowned, and therefore perhaps the most 
obnoxious, of all its champions. 

(13.) And first, as to the extent of liberty taken by Origen with 
the literal sense of the Bible : it is but just to begin with stating 
that his faith in the plenary inspiration of Holy Writ, those parts 
of it even which he is most accused of denying, is as unquestion- 
able as it can be rendered, both by the tone of cordial reverence 
in every part, and also by repeated glowing professions like the 
following ^ : 

" By this brief demonstration of the divinity of Jesus, and 
application of the prophetical words concerning Him, we do in 
effect demonstrate at the same time the Divine inspiration of the 
Scriptures which prophesy of Him, and also of the writings which 
relate His sojourn here and His teaching; writings which were 
uttered with all authority and power, and have thereby become 
victorious over the elect portion of the Gentiles. It should be 
added that the divinity of the prophetic words, and the spiritu- 
ality of Moses' law, shone forth only in consequence of the 
• De Princip. iv. 6. t. i. 161. 

54 Origens devout Use of the Scriptures. 

§ iii. 14 [earthly] sojourn of Jesus. For evident proofs of the inspiration 
of the ancient Scriptures, before Christ's sojourn here, it was not 
possible to exhibit ; but the Law and the Prophets, before liable 
to suspicion, whether they were indeed things Divine, had a clear 
light cast on them by the residence of Jesus on earth, as being 
composed and written by a <;race from above. And he who with 
care and attention studies the prophetic words, feeling as he will 
on the bare reading a kind of enthusiasm stealing over Iiim, will 
be convinced by his feelings tl at they are no writings of men, 
which we believe to be the words of God. The light, too, which 
existed before in the Law of Moses, wrapped up in a veil, shone 
forth at the time of our Lord's abode here ; the veil being taken 
away, and the good things which were shadowed by the letter, 
coming gradually into full knowledge." 

(14.) Next, I observe, that in general, i. e. with comparatively 
few exceptions, and those always particularly accounted for, Origen 
did not only receive the letter, but acknowledge the historical 
meaning, of the Holy Book. This will be sufficiently evident by 
a few citations falling into two separate groupes. The first will 
consist of passages in which he inculcates his much canvassed 
maxim of a Triple Sense of Scripture : the other, of express or 
incidental cautions, in the course of his commentary, over and 
over enforced upon his hearers, not to lose sight of the letter in 
the brightness of the Spirit. 

The Triple Sense of Scripture is most expressly set forth in a 
well-known passage of the Fourth Book Trepi a|U)(wv* : "We ought 
to transcribe into our own souls the meaning of the Holy Writings 
in three several ways ; in the first place, that the simpler may be 
edified by what may be called the Jlesh or body of the Scripture, 
by which name we denote the obvious, literal acceptation : in the 
next place, that he who has attained to a certain height, may re- 
ceive edification from that which is as it were the soul of the 
same Scripture : thirdly, that he who is perfect, and like those of 
whom the Apostle speaks as fit to have wisdom spoken among 
them — wisdom not of this world — that they too may be edified 
out of that spiritual law, which has the shadow of good things to 
come. For as man is compounded of body, and soul, and spirit, 
» § xi. L i. 168, 

Origen on the Triple Sense of Scripture. 55 

so is the Scripture, dispensed by God by way of gift for the sal- § iii. 14. 
vation of men." 

Again, in a noble passage of the fifth Homily on Leviticus \ — 
which may be cited the more at length on account of the light which 
it seems to throw on the analogy above alleged, as existing be- 
tween the doctrines of the Fathers and heretics respectively, and 
their methods of interpreting Scripture : — " The details of the law 
concerning sacrifices are," he observes, " to be received in a dif- 
ferent sense from that which the literal text points out. Else, 
when they are publicly read in the Church, they tend rather to 
the hindrance and subversion of the Christian faith, than to the 
admonition and edification of men. But if we search and find in 
what sense these things are said, and mark them, as they ought 
who think of God, who is the declared Author of these laws; 
then the hearer will become a Jew indeed, but ' a Jew inwardly,' 
according to the distinction of St. Paul in the epistle to the Ro- 
mans ; which distinction of the inward and outward Jew, cer- 
tain impious heretics not understanding, have withdrawn them- 
selves not from the Scriptures only, but from God also, the Giver 
of this law and of the divine Scriptures to mankind, and have 
feigned to themselves another God, besides the Maker of Heaven 
and Earth : whereas, as you know, the verity of the faith holds 
one and the same God of the Law and of the Gospel, the Creator 
alike of visible and invisible things : the rather, because the 
things visible retain with invisible no small affinity ; so that the 
Apostle affirms, * the invisible things of God, from the creation of 
the world:' to be seen, 'being understood by the things which 
are made.' As therefore a mutual affinity exists between things 
visible and invisible, earth and heaven, soul and flesh, body and 
spirit, and of combinations of these is made up this present 
world : so also Holy Scripture, we may believe, is made up of 
visible and invisible parts: first, as it were, of a kind of body, 
i. e. of the letter which we see with our eyes : next, of a soul, 
i. e. of the sense which is discovered within that letter : thirdly, 
of a spirit, so far as it contains also in itself certain heavenly things ; 
assays the Apostle, 'they serve to the example and shadow of 
things celestial.' 

» § i. t. ii. p. 203. 

56 Origen's /Allegories how reconcileable with Reserve. 

§111. 15,16. "Such then being the case, let us, first calling on God, who 
made of Scripture both the body, and soul, and spirit — the body 
for those who were before us, the soul for ourselves, the spirit 
for those who in time to come shall obtain the inheritance of 
eternal life, whereby to win their way to the heavenly kingdoms; 
— let us now seek that soul of the law which I have mentioned, so 
far as belongs to our present subject." 

(15.) One may remark, by the way, that the opening of this state- 
ment enables us in some measure to solve one principal difficulty 
connected with the allegorical method ; viz. how it came to pass 
that in public and popular discourses, discourses to the unbap- 
tized, Origen and others so continually and unreservedly publish 
these mystical expositions ; expositions which themselves repeat- 
edly compare to strong meat, hardly fit therefore for the babes 
and beginners in Christ. This is to be accounted for pro- 
bably much in the same manner as the publication of the 
Three Creeds, and putting the mysteries of our faith in every 
one's mouth : it was in itself not desirable, nay, rather contrary to 
Church principles : but the Jews and perverse heretics made it 
necessary, each endeavouring, for their own purposes, to main- 
tain that the Old Testament was contrary to the New : a position 
which could not in strict reasoning be met satisfactorily, unless 
by divulging the secret of the allegorical meaning. Origen 
himself speaks feelingly of this difficulty in the course of his 
remarks on the parable of the Unmerciful Servant ^ " But some 
one will say, are we not acting irreligiously in wishing these 
things to convey a meaning, because of the heavenly Book's secret 
and mystical nature in some parts? Are we not wrong in trying 
to expound these things ? however accurately, for argument's sake 
we may suppose ourselves to have made out the drift of them." 
The tenor of his answer is this : that it was by no means his 
custom, to trust his ordinary hearers with all the mysterious 
wonders, which he seemed to himself faintly to discern in Scrip- 
ture, but that he always suggested those which he judged best for 
edifying : of which edification, one necessary groundwork would 
be, the securing the flock against the prevailing heresies. 

(16.) But to proceed with our reasons for attributing, even to the 
» In Matt. Horn. xiv. § 12, t. Hi. p. 630. U 

Clement of Alexandria recognises the literal meaning. 57 

allegorical school, a high respect for the literal sense. Clement § "'• '6. 
of Alexandria, Origen's predecessor, in discoursing on the two 
senses, (for it does not appear that it had occurred to him to dis- 
tinguish the Moral from the Mystical ; as Origen afterwards did, 
influenced perhaps by a desire to retain together with the Chris- 
tian interpretation as much as he could of the morality which 
he admired in Philo ' ;) Clement, I say, among other very many 
passages to the same effect, has one in which he refers to a 
Rabbinical tradition, remarkable at least for poetical force and 
beauty : that " when God took Moses to himself, Joshua 
saw him in two forms ; in one with angels, in the other on 
the mountains and among the ravines receiving sepulchral 
honours. This sight Joshua beheld from above, being lifted up 
in the Spfrit, together with Caleb .... The drift of the history 
being, I suppose, to show that true knowledge does not belong 
to all, but some behold only the body of tlie Scriptures, the 
words and sentences, as it were the body of Moses : others see 
through to the meaning and the things signified by the words, 
making that Moses who is with the angels the object of their 
search. In fact, of those who called on the Lord Himself, the 
greater part said only, * Son of David, haye mercy on me ;' but 
some few acknowledged Him to be the Son of God, as Peter; 
whom also He blessed, because not flesh and blood had re- 
vealed to him the truth, but his Father which is in heaven : 
whereby Christ showed, that the perfect Christian recognises 
the Son of the Almighty, not by the flesh which was conceived 
and born, but by the very power of the Father." 

Such passages as these lose their force, except we understand 
the letter of Scripture to have, in the opinion of these writers, 
a real and substantial meaning, as the bodies of our Lord and 
of Moses were real and substantial. 

The same remark may be made on the only place that I know 
of, in which Clement seems to come near the Origenian doctrine 
of the three significations. " The purport of the law," he says, 
" we must take, either as declaring to us some sign," («. e. as it may 

> Strom, vi. c. xv. § 132. 

58 Origen's Rule for maintaining the Letter of Scripture : 

iii. 17. seem, some instance of Divine interference,) '* or as establishing 
some commandment for right conversation, or as uttering an 
oracle in the manner of a prophecy." Heie it is plain that the 
first or historical meaning is by no means slighted or annulled, 
since to it is ascribed the office of declaring signs from heaven. 

(1 7.) We may proceed now to some citations from Origen, be- 
longing to the second of the two classes specified above : cases, 
namely, in which he warns his hearers, more or less expressly, 
that the letter is by no means abolished. First, there is a remark- 
able fragment produced by the Martyr Pamphilus, which, on the 
whole, we may cite without scruple, notwithstanding the suspicions 
cast by St. Jerome and others, on the good faith or genuineness 
of the Apology for Origen, which went under Pamphilus's name. 
For it has no relation to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which 
was the occasion of the corruptions specified by Jerome ; and 
again, it has all the internal evidence which can arise from agree- 
ment with Origen's ordinary interpretations. Thus then Pam- 
philus represents him as speaking of the evangelical narrative 
generally ^ : " Though these things have a spiritual meaning, yet 
the truth of the history being first established, the spiritual sense 
is to be taken as something over and above. For what if our 
Lord, in a spiritual sense, be always curing the blind, when He 
casts His light on minds blinded with ignorance : yet He did not 
the less at that time heal one corporally blind. And He is ever 
raising the dead : yet He did then really perform wonders of that 
kind also, as when He raised Jairus' daughter, and the widow's 
son, and Lazarus. And though at all times, when awakened 
by His disciples, He quiets the storms and whirlwinds of His 
Church ; yet it is unquestionable that those things also, which 
are related in the history, really took place on that occasion. This 
therefore is the only sound way of receiving the sense of Scrip- 
ture; nor ought we to lend an ear to those who affirm, that He 
was born 6y Mary, not of Mary." In which last sentence the 
connexion above noticed is obvious, between the historical sense 
and the Catholic doctrine. 

The following are instances of detail, which prove how care- 
' Apol. pro Orig. p. 36 ; D. ad calc. Orig. Ed. Bened. t. iv. 

Instances of it in Detail. 59 

fully Origen carried this rule out in practice. In his commen- § Hi. 17- 
tary on our Lord's future coming in the glory of His Father 
with Mis angels, he had spoken thus * : " Consider whether one 
may not say, that the Prophets in their sufferings of old bore an 
analogy to the Word, which had no form nor comeliness ; but 
as the Son of Man cometh in the glory of His Father, so the 
Words abiding in the Prophets appear with Him, having become 
Angels, keeping up in a kind of due proportion the glory which 
appertains to them." This allusive exposition, modestly enough 
proposed, he follows up with words of caution. " These things 
we say, by no means slighting the doctrine of the second coming 
of the Son of God, as it is more simply understood." 

In the commentary on Genesis ^ he answers the trite objec- 
tions to the history of the ark, — how it could contain such a mul- 
titude of animals, and the like, — by a calculation as to its ad- 
measurement, which supposes the account literally true ; and on 
this, as a foundation, proceeds to build his allegorical exposition ; 
thereby showing that he did not spare trouble to avoid the 
mere allegory, wherever it seemed possible. 

When he comes to the birth of Isaac, having quoted the well- 
known passage from the epistle to the Galatians, he asks ', 
" What then ? was not Isaac born after the flesh ? did not Sarah 
bear him ? was not he circumcised ? this very sport of his with 
Ishmael, did it not take place in the flesh ? This is the remark- 
able point in the Apostle's exposition, that those things even, 
concerning which there can be no doubt of their having been 
done in the flesh, he affirms to be allegorical." 

Having proposed a mystical interpretation of Abraham's mar- 
riage with Keturah and his second family, he adds an observation, 
which evinces that he did not think of annulling the historical 
sense *. " If we remember the historical notices of the genera- 
tions derived from her, v\e shall the more easily make out [the 
truth] about several nations mentioned in the Scripture ; e. g. 

* In Matt. xii. 30 ; torn. iii. 649. A. 
» In Gen. Horn. 2. t. ii. p. 59—63. 

» In Gen. Horn. 7- § 2 ; t. ii. 78. C, D. 

* In Gen. Horn. 11. § 2 ; t. ii. p. 90. C. 

60 His seeming Rejection of the Letter merely comparative. 

§ iii. 18. where it is said that Moses married a daughter of Jethro the 
priest of Midian, which Midian we find was the son of Abra- 
ham by Keturah ; whereby we learn that Moses's wife was of the 
seed of Abraham, and not an alien. . . . And the like you will 
find in the generations of Ishmael, which if you diligently look 
into, you will discover many points of history unperceived by the 
generality." Had it not been for these remarks coming in at 
the end, the whole tone of what he says about Keturah would 
lead one to suspect that he thought nothing of the literal 
sense : it is fair to conclude, therefore, that in other cases, where 
he is merely silent regarding it, he does by no means intend 
to disparage it. 

(18.) Further, I observe that many of the passages, in which 
he seems at first positively and expressly to reject the historical 
sense, not only may, but in fairness must, be explained with very 
great mitigations. Sometimes he is only speaking by comparison, 
employing the same kind of figure as did the Prophet, when he 
wrote, '* 1 will have mercy and not sacrifice." Thus in discours- 
ing of the history of Isaac ', he says, " As in the Lord there is 
nothing bodily, so in all these things take care to understand 
nothing bodily." Which words sound indeed like a plain denial, 
first of the reality of our Lord's Incarnation, secondly of the 
truth of the narrative concerning Isaac : yet it is evident in the 
same page "^ that Origen was orthodox in the former respect ; 
for he explains the real oflTering of the ram to represent the real 
suffering of Christ in the flesh, and the figurative offering of 
Isaac to represent the impassibility of the Divine Word in the 
hour of crucifixion ; and we have seen before that he specifies the 
history of Isaac as an instance of the allegory not impairing the 
truth of the letter. Who does not see then that the expression, 
" nothing bodily," must be taken in both clauses comparatively ; 
" nothing merely outward and bodily ?" And in all candour the 
same qualification should be adopted in all similar cases, wherever 
the context, or his opinion otherwise known, does not oblige us 
to understand him as going further. For example, a little far- 
ther on in Genesis, having to explain a phrase which seems 
> In Gen. Horn. viii. 10. t. ii. p. 83. » Ibid. § 9. 

His Use of the Word Fable. 61 

tautological, he says *, " As I have often had occasion to observe, § Hi. 19. 
in these things not histories are related, but mysteries are framed 
and put together :" evidently meaning not so much histories as 
mysteries : and implying that details, which might appear trifling 
or irrelevant, if considered only in themselves, are often amply 
accounted for, when you go to the secondary sense : a rule of 
sacred, which is surely no way objectionable. 

So again, in a fragment of a later part of his commentary on 
Genesis ', remarking on the fear expressed by the sons of Jacob, 
lest " Joseph should take them for bondsmen and their asses," 
he says, " It is improbable what is told of the sons of Jacob, that 
when they imagined themselves in so evil case they should have 
thought at all of their asses : except the expression is used alle- 
gorically." By which we may understand him not to deny the 
fact of their so speaking, but to account for their being directed 
to such expressions. 

Also in the account of the destruction of Ai : " When the Jews 
read these things," says he *, •' they make themselves cruel, and 
thirst after human blood," " putantes quia et sancti ita perciis- 
serunt eos qui habitabant Ai :" i. e. acting upon the idea that the 
saints did so and so ; not as if the idea were a false one, but as if 
they reasoned wrongly upon it : for a sentence just before shows 
that this is one of the places to be expounded comparatively. 
He had said, " These * things which follow, belong rather to 
the truth of the mystery than of the narrative." 

(19.) It may be as well to note here, that the word fxvQoq, or 
fabula, for applying which to certain Old Testament histories, 
Origen has been very sharply censured, both in ancient and in 
modern times, did by no means imply, in his acceptation of it, the 
falsehood of the history so denominated. For he uses it of the 
history of Lot and ins daughters, which he calls '* famosissima fa- 
bula * : and yet it is clear from the whole context, that he believed 
the narration and reasoned on it as real. We ought not, there- 
fore, to be too much startled, when we find him using the word 

» In Gen. Horn. x. 4. t, ii. p. 88. » On e. 43. 13. t. ii. p. 48. E. 

» In Jesu Nave Horn. viii. 7- t. ii. p. 417. B, C. * Ibid. § 6. 

* In Gen. Horn. v. 3. t. ii. p. 74. F. 

62 Origen's strong Statements of the Need of Mysticism, 

§ iii. 20. fables, concerning the history of Paradise, and of man before the 
Fall : though it cannot be denied, that on this particular point he 
has trespassed on the honour of the letter, and has taken occasion 
from the evident figure contained in certain phrases (such as 
" they heard the voice of God walking in the garden,") to affirm 
that the whole of what then took place is told only in symbol 
and parable : not (observe) denying that it conveys a real history, 
but that the said history is throughout written, as it were, in 
hieroglyphics. We are not of course called on to justify this 
proceeding, but it is desirable, on many accounts, to observe how 
far the error went. 

(20.) We may just mention two other instances, on the former 
of which the accusers of Origen have very generally delighted 
to dwell. Both of them, however, a candid construction might 
perhaps solve on the principle now under consideration : viz. 
by supposing him rather to assert the superior importance, 
than the exclusive truth, of the mystical interpretation. They 
both occur iu the process of harmonizing the Gospels : the 
former in the accounts of our Lord's going down to Galilee, in 
the early part of His ministry ; the other in those of His 
anointing, whether that occurred once, twice, or three times. 

In the first instance, which has been already quoted for another 
purpose, Origen's * remark is, or appears to be (for there is an 
evident mutilation of the text :) " 'Ihe very truth about these 
things must needs be stored up in the mystical exposition. If the 
discrepancy could not be solved, our faith concerning the Gospels 
must needs be impaired ; as though they were either untrue, or 
uninspired, or as narratives not felicitously arranged." Then 
having stated the difficulty, and challenged the opponents of the 
mystical sense to solve it on any other liypothesis, he remarks in 
general on the Gospel narratives. " There are many other cases, 
in which minute inquiry into the apparent historical discrepancies 
of the four Gospels will lead to one or other of these results ; 
either the inquirer, feeling a kind of giddiness, will give up the 
task of verifying them all in the strict sense, and will take up 
with one or other of them as it may happen ; or, receiving the 
1 In Joan. Comm. x. 2. t. iv. 1G2. B. 

and the comparative Insignificance of the Letter. 63 

whole four, will admit also that their truth does not lie in the § Hi. 20. 
outward and bodily characters wherein they are written. 

To make his meaning plainer in this first clahse, he puts the 
case * of four persons, favoured with visions, relating the same 
Divine interposition, but varying in such a minute circumstance 
as this; that the one saw the heavenly form sitting, the other 
standinir ; yet each with truth represents that which his own 
mind perceived. And considering that the doings of our Lord on 
earth were a series of Divine visions, " why," he says, " should 
we blame the Evangelists, for sometimes giving, as it were, each 
a turn of his own to the things done by our Lord, according to 
His miraculous and most inconceivable power : — sometimes in- 
terweaving into their narrative, in language taken from sensible 
things, what was revealed to them in a sense purely spiritual ? 
Why should we blame them, though for edification's sake they 
sometimes transpose facts, relating a thing in such a connexion, 
as to make it seem to have happened in one place or time, 
when in fact it happened in another ?" And then he makes 
the observation so severely censured : " It was their purpose, 
when circumstances allowed, to speak truth both spiritually and 
literally ; but where both could not be, to prefer the spirit to 
the letter, the spiritual truth being often preserved in what we 
may perliaps venture to call the literal and bodily falsehood." 

In the other passage to be considered together with this *, he 
first states strongly the discrepancies of the literal sense, on the 
supposition that the several accounts of the woman anointing 
our Lord all relate to thesame event ; and the consequent reason- 
ableness of supposing that they related to several persons and 
events. Then he adds, in a way which is readily understood as 
implying that he is now come to the solution which himself 
prefers, " Perhaps some one rather bolder than ordinary will say, 
whether historically it were some one woman only who did an 
act of this kind, or whether you choose to suppose another, or a 
third ; still, I say, first, that the main object of the Evangelists 
had respect to certain mysteries ; secondly, that they were not so 
very anxious to relate according to historical truth, as to set forth 
> Ibid. § 3, 4. * In Matt. Comm. Series, § ^^. t. iii. p. 892, 3. 

64 Real Amount of Origens Statements on the Spirit and Letter. 

iii. 21. the mysteries which arose out of the history. On which account 
also they added certain discourses, suitable to, and in harmony 
with, the meaning of those mysteries." 

(21.) Now concerning both tliese passages, let it not be 
thought mere partiality, if we construe them as affirming no 
more than a comparative exclusion of the literal meaning, a wish 
to enforce attention to the spirit, a deprecation of any thing like 
unbelief or scepticism on account of literal difficulties ; answering 
very nearly to what is commonly said among ourselves, when 
objections are alleged against the Scriptures from supposed 
geological, astronomical, or other like incongruities, involved in 
, their letter. They are objections, people say, of a rvrong kind : 
it was not the object of the Scriptures to teach those matters. 
So here, comparatively speaking, we may understand this Father 
to say, '* It was not the object of the Evangelists, simply to teach 
what happened to our Lord on earth, but to teach it with a view 
to the heavenly and divine truths concerning Him." 

Just as of the history at the beginning of Exodus he says', 
'* These things are not written for us," ad historiam, " as mere 
matters of history : neither are we to suppose that the divine 
books are relating the doings of the Egyptians." It is evident 
from the context, that he here means " simply relating, for 
relating's sake :" that he is far from denying the verity of the 
letter, however he may seem to undervalue its importance. 
In such cases he may be regarded as endeavouring to account, 
not so much for any supposed untruth in a narrative, as for its 
being constructed in a way to make it look untrue. 

A case very much in point would be the statements, undoubt- 
edly conflicting at first sight, of the progess which our Lord 
adopted for healing the blind men at the gate of Jericho. Ori- 
gen would say, and has said % that such appearance of disagree- 
ment did not come of itself; that it was framed on purpose, to 
draw attention to the moral and mystery of the transaction ; 
which, in every such case, will be found to be wonderfully brought 

» In Exod. i. § 5. t. iii. p. 131. E. 

=" Conim. in Matt. torn. 16. § 12. t. iii. 732. 

His supposed Confusion of Mystical with Metaphorical. 65 

out, by a search wisely instituted to remove the historical diffi- § »''• 22. 

(22.) A further mitigation of the censure due to him on this head 
may be derived from a remark of his Editor, De la Rue, who 
certainly was at least enough on his guard against an editor's par- 
tiality for his author. He states it as a strange, yet certain fact, 
that Origen perpetually confuses the literal interpretation of a 
passage as distinct from the mystical, with the literal sense of the 
words as distinct from the metaphorical ^ " Quod paene incre- 
dihile videtur, Origenem latuit discrimen quod literam inter et 
verborum literalem sensum intercedit." It would have been a 
more guarded, and perhaps a more correct manner of speaking, 
had he said only, that Origen sometimes writes as if he were not 
aware of this difference. 

To make the thing plain by example: among other instances 
of the New Testament having, as well as the Law, a letter which 
killeth, Origen alleges* the precepts of our Lord, " If any man 
hath a purse, let him take it, and he that hath no sword, let him 
sell his garment and buy one :" and " salute no man by the way ;" 
and Eiaiy eviov^oi, ot tvt'OV')(^L(Tav kavrove Bia tiiv (jatriXeiay rijjv 
ovpavQv. These passages, all men will allow to be figurative ways of 
expressing a real precept. Now his oversight was, that he applied 
the same principle to passages, which seemed to him fraught with 
historical difficulties : as in the account of Sarah and Abimelech, of 
Isaac and Rebecca, and of the midwives of Egypt ; where his ex- 
pressions are such as these: " If any one chuse to understand this 
merely according to the letter, he ought to seek his hearers rather 
among Jews than among Christians';" and " think you that these 
are no better than tales, and that the Holy Ghost is merely re- 
lating histories^ ?" and " if we take what is written concerning the 
midwives according to the historical narrative, it appears that 
such and such a thing cannot stand '." Yet if the several his- 
tories be examined, it will be seen that to deny the truth of the 
fact is by no means necessary to his argument : the ends of 

* Pref. in t. ii. p. xvii. » Comm. in Matt. t. xv. 2. torn. iii. 653. 

* In Gen. Horn. vi. i. t. ii. p. 76, D. •* In Gen. Horn. x. 2. t. ii. p. 87. F. 
» In Exod. Horn. ii. I. t. ii. p. 13a E. 

VOL. VI. — 89. F 

66 The Church not too apt to defer to Origen. 

§ iii. 23. which are sufficiently answered, by supposing him to deny, that 
this or that turn of expression was designed to be taken literally. 
Nay, even according to his unfriendly editor's statement, if he 
were not sufficiently aware of the dictinction between phrases 
mystical and merely metaphorical, he was very likely to 7nean 
the milder assertion, i. e. that the figurative expression was de- 
signedly made paradoxical, when he seems to advance the 
stronger, t. e. that it wanted the foundation of literal truth. 

For these and other like reasons, even though the school of Ori- 
gen were a fair specimen of the old ecclesiastical interpretation, it 
ivould not follow that that interpretation could be charged with 
denying the letter, except in rare and difficult cases, where, as he 
has himself said, we miss altogether the historical meaning: 
*' defectum patitur historialis intelligentia '." 

(23.) But the matter is thrown out of all doubt, when we add to 
what has been said, the fact that the Church has virtually dis- 
owned all responsibility for the peculiar opinions of this renowned 
Father ; partly by the sentence of a general Council, partly by 
the deliberate judgment of some of her chief lights of later 
days. It is in some respects unfortunate, that that portion of the 
fifth general Council, which contained the proceedings against 
those called Origenists, has not come down to our time : but in 
the decisions of the Council, it is to be observed, that no mention 
is made of the denial of the letter of Scripture, as one of the 
supposed errors of Origen. The errors which were maintained 
in his name, — most of which may be described as mere con- 
jectures, expressed as conjectures by him, and afterwards ad- 
vanced to the rank of tenets, philosophical or theological, by 
speculators who made the most of so high a sanction ; such 
as the pre-existence of souls, the manner in which the merits of 
the Redeemer may be applied to angelic natures, the supposed 
universal renovation, and the like : — these errors are enumerated in 
fifteen articles ^ ; but the alleged abandonment of the literal sense 
of the Bible does not appear among them. However, the whole 
affair, coming as it does at the conclusion of three centuries of 

^ Horn, in Gen. vii. 5, t. ii. 80. B. 

' Vid. Harduin. Concil. t. ii. p. 286—288. 

Protests of Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome. 67 

dispute, shows that there was no such blind deference to § iii. 24. 
his authority, then or at any former time, as may render the 
Church liable, on his account, to the charge of disparaging the 
letter of Holy Scripture. 

(24.) The opinions of the most celebrated Fathers are collected 
by the Benedictine editor, in his preface to the second volume \ 
Such as the sentiment of St. Basil, in a passage quoted above": 
" I know the laws of allegory, though not by ray own invention, 
yet by acquaintance with the labours of others : according to 
which, they who will not receive the ordinary sense of what is 
written, in the account of the Creation for example, affirm water 
not to mean water, but some other nature ; and plants and fishes 
they expound at their own pleasure ; and the formation of creep- 
ing things, and of wild beasts, they pervert according to inven- 
tions of their own, much like those who profess to interpret 
dreams." St, Chrysostom again, as cited by De la Rue, remarks, 
that the geographical situation of Paradise, " eastward in Eden," 
may have been purposely inserted by the Sacred Spirit, " to pre- 
vent those who are inclined to useless talk from deceiving the 
ears of the simple, by stating that Paradise is not in earth but in 
heaven, or putting about any other the like mythological 

It is to be observed, that neither these Fathers, nor St. Augustin 
when he expresses similar sentiments, make any tnentioji of the 
name of Origen : although Augustin, in more than one passage, 
condemns him by name, for the same doctrinal errors which 
were afterwards censured in the second Council of Constanti- 
nople. But they seem to have observed a kind of tenderness 
towards him, which makes their express warnings the more strik- 
ing, and at the same time leaves room to suppose, that according 
to the view which has been taken above, they might regard him as 
rather leading others to deny the letter of the Bible, than as being 
himself guilty .of such an error on any large scale. 

St. Jerome and Ej)iphanius, as is well known, were less scru- 
pulous in their attacks on Origen, probably (at least in part) as 
living among persons who were continually pushing his specu- 

* P. xxiii. » Hexaem. Horn. ix. § i. » In Gen. Horn. xiii. t. i. p. 80. 

F 2 

68 True Amount of their Censures on Origen. 

iii. 25. lations into heresy. Nothing can be more express than their 
protests against him \ addressed to John, Patriarch of Jerusalem, 
for turning the Scriptures into mere allegory, as far as the history 
before the fall was concerned. 

Yet, as is often sarcastically alleged by the detractors of the 
Ancients, not even Origen himself abounds more in mystical 
and figurative interpretations than did tliese two distin^^uished 
Fathers, St. Jerome and St. Angustin. Are we to conclude 
that such men wrote at random, and did not know their 
own isind on such a very serious point, as a rule of interpre- 
tation extending through the whole Scriptures? Must we not 
rather conclude, that their censure of Origen as an allegorist, 
which, generally speaking, we may accept as the censure of the 
Church, went thus far, and no further? viz. to blame him for 
supposing that the literal sense would ever entirely vanish, how- 
ever impossible it may be for us at times to ascertain it, and 
however inferior it may generally or always be, in comparison 
with the mystical sense : to blame him, again, for objecting to 
it, as he sometimes occasionally does, (contrary however to his 
own declared rule) on grounds not flowing from the analogy of 
the faith as held and interpreted by the Church, but such as we 
should call rationalistic ; such as a thing being to our minds incon- 
sistent with the majesty of the Deity. Lastly, and perhaps prin- 
cipally, we may understand them to blame him for too great 
boldness and luxuriance, in advancing interpretations, not in any 
way received by tradition, but devised by his own thoughts. But 
not in any sense can they be said to condemn him simply for 
maintaining the double sense of the old Scriptures, in the very 
way, wherein, as we have seen, the whole body of Christian 
writers, from St. Barnabas and St. Clement downwards, had 
maintained it. 

(25.) And this is true not only of .lerome and Augustin, whose 
love for allegory is well known, but also of the other two great 
names, Basil and Chrysostom, who are comparatively remarkable 
for reserve in such interpretations. Yet Basil, on the Psalms, re- 

> Epiph. Epist. ad Joan. lerosolym. ap. Hieron. t. i. 247, &c. j ed. Vallars. 
1766 ; Hieron. contra Joan. lerosol. § 7 ; t< •*• ^13. 

St. Chrysostom's Sanction for the Mystical Method. 69 

peatedly refers to our Lord expressions which would be com- § iii. 25. 
monly interpreted of the Psalmist only. And Chrysostom (to say 
nothing of his practice) in the very passage which is cited from 
him as so decidedly condemning Origen, points out the neces- 
sity of understanding all things 0eorpe;rJic'« " ' The Lord God 
planted Paradise.' Consider, beloved ; if we do not understand 
these things in a sense becoming the Almighty, we shall needs 
be carried over a deep precipice. For what can they say con- 
cerning this word, * planted,' who dare to take all the words 
spoken concerning the Deity in a human sense ? Did God need 
tools and husbandry, and other such process, to adorn Paradise ? 
God forbid. . . . Against this," as against the mere allegory, "let 
us stop our ears, and follow the rule of the Scripture. And 
when thou hearest, ' God planted a garden in the East,* take 
care to conceive of the word ' planted ' in a divine sense concerning 
God, that He gave order for such a thing to be ; but as to the 
next word, believe thou that Paradise really was formed, and in 
that place where the Scripture hath pointed it out. For not to 
believe the things set down in the divine Scripture, but rather 
to introduce other things of one's own mind, must, I conceive, 
bring extreme danger to those who venture on such a pro- 
ceeding." On the other hand, in his exposition of the 47th 
Psalni^, he says, speaking of the verse, " O clap your hands, all 
ye people ;" " With reason might one take this Psalm according 
to the mystical sense, rising above the literal meaning. For 
though it take its beginning and prelude from things sensible, 
yet it guides the hearer to the things which are merely spiri- 
tual. For, as I have said before, so now I say again, some 
things we must take as they are said, some contrary to the 
letter : e. g. when it is said, the wolf shall lie down with the 
Iamb. Some in both senses ; as the sacrifice of Abraham, and 
the first paschal lamb." Compare this passage with the former, 
and it will be plain that while St. Chrysostom was earnest in con- 
demning the too free speculations of a later age, there was nothing 
in his principles contrary to the mode of exposition, which, as we 
have seen, was adopted by the Fathers before Origen. 

' Horn. 1.3, in Gen. t. i. p. 80, lin. 29, ed. Savile. ' t. i. 652, 16. 

70 Recapitulation. Judgment of Cyril of Alexandria. 

§ iv. 1. On the whole, we may assume that the Mysticism of the ancient 

Church (whatever might be said of some individuals) was very 
far from interfering with the truth of the history. The next point 
will be to show, that neitlier did it interfere with moral truth, 
». e. it did not, by prophetical exposition of certain questionable 
parts of the Patriarchs' conduct, annul or confound the judg- 
ment of the well informed moral sense, as to the rectitude of 
such conduct. This, however, must be made matter of sepa- 
rate investigation. 

§ iv. — Mysticism as applied to the Moral Difficulties of 

(1.) It has been endeavoured in the former sections, first, to 
shew distinctly what is meant, when the Fathers are charged with 
Mysticism, and to point out by example the need of extreme 
caution and reverence, whenever we approach that subject. 
Secondly, granting the fact that they are, generally speaking, 
Mystics, at least in the interpretation of Scripture, (for to that in 
its present stage the inquiry is limited) a reason was however 
adduced for believing that they were not so at random, nor in 
mere blind obedience to the literary fashion of the day. The 
reason is this, that we find them, with few and rare exceptions, 
careful to limit their mystical expositions, so as not to destroy 
the historical and literal meaning. The exceptions, chiefly drawn 
from the Alexandrian school, were shortly considered, and 
appeared in themselves less formidable than they are sometimes 
represented : it appeared, moreover, that whatever their amount, 
they so far tend to strengthen our argument, as they occasioned an 
anxious disavowal of the mere allegory, on the part of St. Basil, 
St. Augustin, and others, who had the best claim to be regarded 
as representing the whole Church. Their verdict is correctly 
reported in the following passages from Cyril of Alexandria '. 

" In the inspired writings those who shrink from the literal 
and historical meaning as unsound, are chargeable in effect with 
something very like shrinking from the only process, which 
can enable them to understand the things therein set down. For 

1 In Esai. lib. i. 4; t. i. p. 113. 

Old and New Vietvs of Moral Difficulties in Scripture. 71 

the investigation of them in the mystical way is indeed noble §Jv. 2. 
and profitable ; it tends to enlighten thoroughly the eye of the 
mind, and greatly to advance us in good understanding: never- 
theless, as often as any historical fact is introduced to us by 
the Scriptures, then surely, if ever, it becomes us to trace out 
the profitable use of the history, that the divine Scripture may 
do its work, saving and helping us in all ways." This was in 
agreement with the rule, which he had laid down for himself in 
the beginning of his commentary on the Pentateuch \ " Our 
exposition will be useful, if we first consider the facts, as they 
really took place, and make part of history ; and having as we 
may completed that view, if we then new-mould our statement, 
passing from the type and shadow to the clear account of the 
inward signification ; our discourse having all the way a bearing 
on the Mystery of Christ, and tending to Him as its limit; since 
it is an unquestioned truth, that Christ is the end of the Law 
and the Prophets." 

Such had been the line of interpretation, which the Fathers of 
the first age, by a kind of sacred instinct, alopted from the 
beginning : and in no other did those of the fourth and fifth ages 
acquiesce, after full examination, and abundant opportunity of 
judging how far it was likely to be abused. 

(2.) We have now to consider this mystical method in its appli- 
cation to one class of texts in particular ; those portions, namely, 
of the Old Testament history, which record actions of question- 
able morality on the part of God's favoured servants. So it is, 
that in modern times, even among those who appear truly to 
reverence the Bible, there is commonly adopted, in regard of 
these startling passages, a tone of explanation and remark, very 
different from that which prevailed in the early ages of the 
Church. It seems desirable, for many reasons, to ascertain the 
amount of that difference, and how it may be best accounted 
for. We may find, perhaps, that the patristical mode of inter- 
pretation, rightly understood, interferes as little with moral, as it 
before was found to interfere with historical truth ; and the 
whole discussion may tend to convince us, that on this, as on 
« T. i. p. 2. C. ed. Aubert. Paris. 1638. 

72 The Moral Difficulty known and avowed by the Fathers : 

iv. 3, 4. most theological subjects, we have much more to learn from the 
Fathers, than to apologize for in them. 

(3.) That the Fathers, deeply as they were versed in every part 
of the inspired writings, were fully aware of this kind of Scrip- 
ture difficulty, one might be certain beforehand, on considering 
that it is a difficulty which occurs to every person, even to 
children, perusing the Old Testament with an ordinary degree of 
attention. Nor do we find commonly in their writings any desire 
to evade the subject, or to draw off attention from it. There 
were controversies indeed in the four first ages, which would 
have forced it continually on their thoughts as polemical writers; 
such as that with the Marcionites first, and afterwards with the 
Manichaeans, who used the startling parts of the sacred history, 
as proofs that the Old Testament came from an evil, or at least 
from an imperfect, Being: or again, that which they had con- 
stantly to maintain with the Pagan Philosophers, who, as 
appears from Celsus and Julian, were not slow to employ this 
topic against Christians and Jews alike : but the remarkable 
thing is, that the same narrations are produced, and discussed 
without reserve, in their practical and popular writings also, 
their pastoral letters to individuals, and their homilies ad 
populum. There seems no desire on their part to withdraw these 
things from common observation, such as we now find not unfre- 
quently, even among those who on other grounds would encourage 
the freest discussion and circulation of the Scriptures. Their 
reserve, their secret discipline, so perplexing to many in our 
days, did not extend to these things. 

(4.) Neither do we find that even those, who took the greatest 
liberties in allegorizing, who came nearest in some instances to 
the denial of the letter, — not even that such as Origen, — thought 
themselves warranted in getting rid of the moral difficulty, arising 
from the places in question, by resorting to the mere allegory. 
They did so, or appeared much inclined to do so, where the 
literal statement seemed physically or historically impossible : 
occasionally also where it seemed very trifling or frivolous ; but 
it is not so easy to meet with a passage, where the same solution 
is applied to any narrative, merely on the ground of its apparent 

not evaded by denying the historical Sense. 73 

immorality ; which yet, with our modern notions, would seem to § iv. 4. 
be the most tempting ground of all. 

This remark is made with all the hesitation which becomes 
one who ventures on a sweeping statement after a very limited 
induction. But should it be found on the whole correct, it is 
surely a very considerable circumstance, and may help to con- 
vince us that these early theologians knew well what they were 
about, and did not use their solutions at random, just as difficul- 
ties happened to press, or ingenious answers came to hand. 
Celsus, as it appears from Origen \ charged the apologists of the 
Bible with this very artifice ; •* that the more plausible among 
them, being ashamed of certain portions of tlieir sacred books, 
take refuge in the allegorical meaning :" and among other 
instances from the Book of Genesis he alleged the disputes of 
Jacob and Esau, the conduct of Rebecca, the histories of Lot 
and of Jacob's family. Origen's answer in effect comes to this^: 
he disavows all intention of denying the fact in such histories as 
those above mentioned. " In many instances," says he, " the 
word [of God] hath made use of real transactions, and recorded 
them so as to exhibit things greater, covertly indicated, such as 
are" (among others) " the marriages and various connections of the 
righteous men [o/" old]." Farther on he contrasts the patriarchal 
narrative with the foul and revolting fictions of the Greek 
mythology ; which, as he observes, were indeed full of shame- 
fulness, taken in their first acceptation, relating as they did to 
their very gods and the sons of their gods ; and having enforced 
this by the virtual confession of those Greek philosophers, such 
as Chrysippus, who had laboured to make out the symbolical 
purport of their fables, he proceeds as follows : " Because of tliese 
things — because of such fables as these and others innumerable, 
we for our part are unwilling to go so far as even in name to call 
the Supreme God (e. g.) Jupiter ; or the Sun, Apollo ; or the 
Moon, Diana. But exercising pure religion towards the Creator, 
and concerning His works, which are very good, using none but 
good and auspicious words, not even by a name do we pollute 
the things of God : accepting what Plato says in the Philaebus : 

• Contr. Celsum, iv. 48, 43, 46. » Ibid. § 44 ; t. p. 537, B. 

74 The Fathers maintained an immutable Moral Instinct. 

§ iv. 6. * so great,' says he, Ms the dread which I feel concerning the names 
of the gods.' We also, of a truth, are full of dread concerning 
the Name of our God and His good creatures, to that degree, 
that never could we admit, even under pretence of symbolical 
language, any tale or fable which tends to the corruption of the 
young *." The argument of this passage may seem to require 
explanation. It may be briefly stated thus. •* The fact is well 
known that believers in the Bible decline even the metaphorical 
use of the names of the heathen gods ; so great is their abhor- 
rence of ilie impious immoral stories with which those names are 
associated ; judge you then whether they are likely, under any 
pretence of allegory, to admit, as vehicles of their own doctrines, 
stories really base and immoral." 

From all this it is sufficiently manifest, that the line of defence 
taken by Origen, and a fortiori by those who were less prone to 
allegory, would be, to vindicate on their own grounds the moral 
tendencies of the several statements objected to, assuming their 
historical truth. How far such his vindications were or were 
not independent of the allegorical meaning, which he also 
asserted, and for which he argues at large in this very passage, 
is another question, to be considered hereafter in its place. 

(5.) Now there is a strong presumption, at first setting out, 
against the supposition that the Fathers dealt lightly with this 
class of Scripture difficulties, that they trifled with them, or 
treated them in a way to disturb men's notions of morality. For 
it is a certain fact, that the early Christian moralists, whether 
nominally attached to any particular school or no, were none of 
them in any sense Epicureans nor utilitarians. They all held, 
expressly or by instinct, a moral sense in the heart of man, 
and its correlative, a real difference of right and wrong in human 
conduct, independent of all results. 

It was partly on this ground that they preferred to all others 
the schools of Pythagoras and Plato, a preference which is fully 
stated and accounted for at large by St. Augustin, in his eighth 
Book on the City of God. A few passages may be given, as 
tending to show what line Christian philosophers (for in their 
name generally St. Augustin is speaking, and not of his own 
* Contr. Celsum, p. 48, t. i. p. 640. 

St. August'in's Praise of Plato on that Account. 75 

private opinions) would be likely to pursue on delicate points of f iv. 5. 

With regard then to the moral sense : " Far be it from us," 
he exclaims', "to think of comparing the Platonists with 
those who make the bodily senses the standard of truth, and 
pronounce them, faithless and deceitful as they are, the rule 
and measure of all propositions ; as do the Epicureans and all of 
the like sort : as the very Stoics also themselves, who in their 
fond affection for Dialectic, as they term it, i. e. for the art of 
ingenious argumentation, have imagined that even it might be 
best derived, ultimately from the bodily senses ; affirming that from 
no other source does the mind conceive the notions which they 
call primary (ideas, i. e. of certain things which their theory goes 
on to define particularly), and from which is deduced and framed 
the whole process of learning and of teaching. . . But the Platonists 
(deservedly therefore preferred by us) distinguish what the mind 
beholds from what strikes on the bodily senses; neither denying to 
the senses what they are capable of, nor assigning to them more 
than they will bear. But the light of the mind, whereby all things 
are to be learned, they affirmed to be no other than the God by 
whom all things were made." 

A little further on, he writes as follows : (The passage is 
here quoted, not so much for the astonishing depths which 
it discloses of what may be called Christian Philosophy, as 
because the author states himself to be speaking not his own 
private sentiments, but the feeling, avowed or instinctive, of 
the whole Church*.) '^So far as the Platonists agree with 
us, concerning one God, the Author of this universe, who is 
not only above all bodies, Himself incorporeal, but also above 
all souls. Himself incorruptible, our Source, our Light, our 
Good — so far we prefer them to all others. What if any Chris- 
tian, ignorant of their literature, use not their terms in dispu- 
tation, (how should he, since he never learned them?) what if 
he neither call that branch Physics, which treats of inquiry into 
things natural ; nor that Logic, which analyses the process where- 
by truth may be discerned ; nor that Ethics, which treats of con- 
duct, — of the chief good to be sought, and the chief evil to be 
> De Civ. Dei, viii. 7. * Ibid. cap. 10. 

76 Origen's Contrast of Plalonism nilh other Sects. 

§ iv. 6. avoided ? he knows nevertheless that all three are from the one 
true and most bountiful God ; both our nature, whereby we are 
formed according to His image; and the doctrine, whereby we 
may know both Him and ourselves ; and the grace, whereby, 
cleaving to Him, we may be perfectly blessed. Behold here the 
cause of the preference we give to the Platonists : that while 
other philosophers have worn out their toil and their talents in 
searching out the causes of things, the rules of learning and of 
life ; these alone, acknowledging God, have found the cause of 
the world as it is, the light of all truth that may be attained, the 
fountain of all bliss that may be tasted. Be these philosophers 
then Platonists, or wlioever else of whatever nation, who think 
thus of God, they think with us." 

(6.) In Origen we have repeated disavowals of the principles of 
the other sects, and repeated acknowledgments of the remark- 
able coincidence between the principles of Plato's morality, and 
those which the Gospel divinely sanctions. Of the former class, 
the following is a specimen * : " The Christians are likened by 
Celsus to one, who professing to cure bodily sickness, should 
withdraw men from skilful physicians, for fear of having their 
own ignorance detected. But who, I ask, are these physicians, 
from whom we thus withdraw the simple ? . . . Suppose it, for 
example, to be the philosophy of Epicurus, and of those who 
belong to his school, . . . what do we that is not most reasonable, 
liberating men from that evil disease, the result of the treatment 
of these favourite physicians of Celsus : I mean the denial of 
Providence, and recommendation of pleasure as the chief good ? 
Or, what again, if we draw off our disciples from those other 
physician-philosophers who are called Peripatetics; denying as 
they do all providence over mankind, all relation between God 
and man ? what is this but an exercise of piety on our part, and 
a real mental cure to those whom we influence? . . . Grant, 
again, that there are others, whom we separate from the physi- 
cians of the Stoical class, the maintainers of a corruptible God of 
a bodily and perishable substance : ... in this case too, can any 
one deny that we shall be delivering those who will believe us 

> In Cels. iii. 75. 

How Justification might he had by it, according to Clement. 77 

from many evils, and introducing them to the doctrine of true § iv. 7- 
piety, the doctrine of resignation to the Creator of the world?" 

To this rejection of all other theories, he elsewhere adds ex- 
press approbation of Plato's, of which perhaps no instance can be 
adduced irsore remarkable than this : " Let those who are able to 
understand receive the instruction of ancient and wise men ; of 
Plato especially, the son of Ariston ; let us hear what he says in a 
certain letter concerning the chief good : let us attend to him, 
affirming, • the first and chiefest good can in nowise be uttered in 
words, but is first generated by long habit, and then on a sudden, 
as though by fire, starting into a blaze, is kindled like a light in 
the soul.' Which words we also hearing, assent unto them as 
excellently spoken : for it was God Himself who revealed to 
them those things, and whatsoever else has been rightly taught 
by them." 

(7.) To the same purpose may be alleged those passages in 
Clement of Alexandria, peculiarly startling to those whose views 
are framed upon the phraseology of modern theologians, wherein 
he speaks of the old Pagans being in a certain sense justified by 
philosophy * ; of its being necessary to them for righteousness 
before the coming of our Lord ; of its constituting one out of 
many ways or gates of righteousness ^ whereby men, according 
to God's manifold goodness, might be and were variously led 
towards the royal way and gate. These and similar high ex- 
pressions relate especially to the Platonic morals : althougli it is 
true that in his general commendations of philosophy he wished 
to be understood as adopting an eclectic process : " 1 mean not," 
says he, '* the Stoical or the Platonic alone, nor yet that of Epi- 
curus, nor of Aristotle ; but wiiatsoever sayings may be found 
in each of those sects, rightly inculcating righteousness with re- 
ligious consideration, those taken all together by way of selection 
I term philosophy^." This eclecticism may very well stand with 
an exclusive preference of Plato's doctrine, as to the unchange- 
able nature of moral good, arising out of the unchangeable attri- 
butes of God ; a doctrine with which Clement every where in- 

» Strom, i. 99 ; vi. 44. » Ibid. i. 38 ; vi. 45. 

» Ibid. i. 73. 

78 Hon) the Moral Sense deals with Scripture Difficulties. 

§ iv. a dicates his concurrence : e. g. where he calls Justice na^uroi, and 
especially in that remarkable place which conveys his exposition 
of the critical word Justification ' ; '" You have been justified,' " 
says the Apostle, " * in the name of the Lord ;' you have been made 
by Him, so to speak, righteous, as He is righteous ; and in the 
greatest possible measure, according to your capacity, you have 
been blended and united with the Holy Spirit of Gop." This 
sentence clearly evinces, that when he spoke of philosophy 
justifying the heathen, he was far from any thought of its merit- 
ing for them, in the strict sense of the word, forgiveness of sins : 
he was speaking of inherent goodness, and that, he affirmed, 
philosophy gave them, so far as they may have really practised 
it, by the secret aid of God's good Spirit, and so far as they may 
have become, accordingly, conformed to God's image; an idea 
which evidently applies to the Platonist alone, among heathen 
schools of morality. 

Such is, what has sometimes been called in acorn, the Plato- 
nism of the early Church ; the allegation implied in that name 
being about as correct, as if one should say, the sun's light was 
borrowed from the reflection of the moon in the water. The 
passages have been adduced, not to prove the fact, for that is 
allowed on all hands ; but as putting strongly before the mind the 
sort of view which the ecclesiastical writers were likely to take 
of those narratives of Holy Writ, which we may call, in one 
sense, painfully perplexing. We see that they could not consis- 
tently explain them by any view, however enlarged, of expedi- 
ency, a greater good resulting in the end ; they must either leave 
the several difficulties as they found them, or make them out in 
some way positively consistent with God's eternal law. 

(8.) We are far, however, from being left to antecedent proba- 
bilities on this head. St. Augustin, in his treatise against Faustus 
the Manichaean, has left us an elaborate statement of the principle 
on which, as he conceived, objections of the kind now in question 
are to be met, accompanied with many exemplifications. The Ma- 
nichaeans, as is well known, affirmed the Old Testament to be the 
work of the Evil Principle ; and one of their main arguments was 
' Strom, vii. 87. 

August'tn's View of questionable Acts in Scripture. 79 

grounded on the distressing parts of the Old Testament history. § iv. 8. 
Indeed the similarity is wonderful between the blasphemies of 
Faustus, as they are recited by St. Augustin, and those of many 
modern unbelievers : whether the replies of St. Augustin agree as 
well with those most in favour among modern vindicators of Scrip- 
'ture, is another question ; of which more will be said presently. 
He addresses himself to the inquiry with all the religious care 
which might be expected from his deep reverence and affection for 
the Bible : stating himself, in the outset, to have in view the case, 
not so much of the Manichaeans, — whose theology, as well as their 
moral conduct, proved that they could not adduce such objections 
in earnest, — as of others, who, without any vain teaching of theirs, 
found in themselves disturbing thoughts, on comparing the life of 
the Prophets in the Old Testament with the life of the Apostles 
in the New. " That we may not," says he *, " proceed rashly in 
our moral judgment of these matters, we shall do well first to 
consider, what is sin : then to look into the deeds of the Saints 
registered in the divine books, that if in any instances we find even 
them to have sinned, we may ascertain, as diligently as we can, for 
what good end their sins also were set down and committed to 
memory. ■ Next, in whatsoever cases we find what appears sin to 
the foolish or ill-disposed, not being such, yet not having in 
it any obvious example of goodness : we shall have to consider 
for what cause these things found a place in those Scriptures, 
which our faith tells us were written for our [soul's] health, to 
control us in this life, and obtain for us that which is to come. 
Lastly, whatsoever among the deeds of the Saints shine forth as 
lessons of righteousness, no man, even among the simple and 
ignorant, doubts the propriety of recording these. Of the two 
former classes, then, there may be a question ; first, those which 
may seem to be recorded idly, not having any goodness found in 
them, }et not being sins; secondly, those, the relation of which 
may appear even pernicious, their sinfulness being undeniable, 
and they not unlikely to be drawn into precedent. In which 
latter kind, again, we may observe a further distinction. For 
some of these actions are uncensurcd in the Scripture itself, and 

> Contr. Faust, lib. xxii. 26. 

80 Questionable Conduct, when approved by the Fathers^ 

iv. 9, 10. may, therefore, by some be imagined no sin at all ; others are 
indeed reproved in the Bible, yet may be committed with an 
hope of easy pardon, being such as are found even in those holy 

(9.) A fairer or fuller statement of the case could hardly be given 
in the same number of words. Observe now how absolutely he 
lays down the doctrine of immutable morality, as the standard 
whereby to try the conduct of the Saints, no less than the ordinary 
conduct of ordinary men. *' Sin '," he proceeds, " is something 
done, said, or desired contrary to the eternal law. By the eternal 
law I mean the Divine reason or Will of God, commanding the 
preservation, forbidding the disturbance, of the natural order of 
things." Presently after he applies this standard to the several 
cases enumerated by Faustus, such as the polygamy of Abraham 
and Jacob ; Abraham's conduct when with Sarah in Egypt ; the 
histories of Lot, Judah, David, and others; the sanguinary wars 
and executions of Moses. And how uncompromising his casuistry 
was, we may see in the treatise De Mendacio : where he denies 
the lawfulness of any kind of lie, even for the saving of a man's 
life or soul, and maintains that all the cases alleged from the 
Old Testament in excuse or commendation of those who take 
such liberties, either had not the nature of lies, or are proposed as 
warnings, not as examples, to mankind. 

Such being in general the strictness of the Fathers* morality, 
it is nevertheless undeniable, that they treat the passages in ques- 
tion — St. Augustin himself, the asserter of a rule so inflexible, 
treats them — in a tone at which modern ears are apt to be 
startled : positively and unreservedly praising some things, which 
the men of this age either boldly censure, or condescendingly try 
to excuse, or at best shrink from discussing, as they would from 
the touch of a hot iron : and using much doubt and reserve in 
their censure of others, which to us are apt to seem clear and 
unquestionable cases of gross immorality. 

(] 0.) Now with regard to the former class — the cases where the 
approbation of the Fathers is more positive than we should ven- 
ture on, — it perhaps will be found that they generally spoke from 
1 Contr. Faust, xxii. 2?. 

supposed to he prompted from above. 81 

a strong impression (which might or might not be well-grounded § iv. 10. 
in tlie particular case) that the person was acting by express com- 
mand, or secret but sure inspiration, of Almighty God. The most 
signal instance of the kind is Abraham's sacrifice of his son : the 
command for which is too plainly set down in tlie Old Testament, 
and the praise of it in the New too marked and emphatical, to 
admit of its being called in question by any believer ; but it is 
not always felt how far the principle of it extends : — that to it, as to 
the head of a class, may be referred very many of the passages 
which startle men, by representing God's favoured servants as 
acting with apparent cruelty and harshness. The Fathers deeply 
felt this : they felt that where God had plainly spoken, the justi- 
fications and arguments of men were out of place : nor did they 
doubt His having means to make His own voice so clear to His 
servants, that they need not fear its coming from any Spirit but 
His. And therefore St. Augustin, defending God's people against 
the charge of wronging the Egyptians, felt that he had said 
enough for them, if he brought them under the same category 
with Abraham : i. e. if he showed that they as well as Abraham 
had an express command from God. And this the very Mani- 
chaeans must allow ; for even Faustus, in general so unsparing, 
had not dared to insert the sacrifice of Isaac in his charges 
against the Patriarchs ; probably because it woidd have been too 
offensive, so clear was the verdict of exceeding praise bestowed 
on that act in the New Testament. St. Augustin's reasoning is 
thus worded ' : — 

" Some acts there are which the Eternal Lord . . . has set 
before men as in a kind of middle station, so that our taking 
tliem on ourselves would be justly blamed for presumption, but 
in fulfilling them, commanded, we earn the praise of obedience. 
So much difference does it make in the natural place and station 
of things, not only who is acting, and what is done, but also 
under whose authority. Abraham, had he sacrificed his son of 
his own accord, what would he have shown himself, but fearfully 
profane and detestable ? What, when he did so at God's bidding, 
but full of all faith and devotion?" (Elsewhere', in comparing 

' Contr. Faust, xxii. 73. ' Qusest. in Jud. xlix. 4. t. iii. p. i. 456. D. 

VOL. VI. — 89. o 

82 The Fathers' View of Dispensations that seem to us cruel. 

§ iv. 10. Abraham's act with Jephtha's, he had made this the leading dif- 
ference : that the one, being bidden, offered his son ; the other 
did what was forbidden by the law of Moses, and not enjoined 
on him by any special command.) . . . . " Wherefore, if in the 
slaughter of a son the voluntary act would be accursed, but the 
dutiful obeying God's voice not only unblameable but glorious ; 
why, O Faustus, blamest thou Moses, for having spoiled the 
Egyptians? If thine anger is moved by the apparent dishonesty, 
supposing the act human, let thy fear be also moved by the 
Divine authority of Him who enjoined it. Or, art thou prepared 
to blame God Himself for willing such things to be done ? Then 
' get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savourest not the things 
which be of God, but those which be of men.' " 

He proceeds to apply the same principle to the wars of Moses 
and Joshua, and the destruction of the Canaanites ^ — " The wars 
wrought by Moses we need not admire or shudder at, for in them 
he followed the Divine command : it was not cruelty, but obedience 
.... * Why then rush we into daring reproaches, I would I could 
say, of men only, and not of God ? What, if the ministers and 
dispensers of the Old Testament, who were also harbingers of the 
New, did their office by slaying sinners ; while those ministers of 
the New, being also expositors of the Old, did theirs by dying 
under the hands of sinners ? Yet both did their office to God — to 
Him who teaches that at divers but convenient seasons, from Him 
temporal goods must be sought, and for Him they are to be 
despised : by Him temporal chastisements are enjoined, and for 
Him they ought to be endured." So Theodoret, speaking of the 
slaughter of Agag by Samuel ' : " He slew him as Phinehas did 
Zimri : for whatever God commands is religious." And Cyril, 
with no less simplicity and piety * : " We ought unhesitatingly, 
attributing rectitude to the verdict pronounced in Heaven, to 
keep ourselves from ail thoughts of cavil, and hasten to accom- 
plish what is bidden, though it be something not very agreeable 

to our own understandings. E. g. Saul spared Agag : 

whereby he offends God, and that greatly ; for he dealt gently 

» Contr. Faust, xxii. 74. » Ibid. § 79. 

» In 1 Reg. qu. 34. t, i. 379. ed. Schulze. « Comm. in Hos. t. iii. la C. 

Modern Account of them by Difference of Civ'tlization. 83 

with him who was appointed to die ; his conduct being all one as § iv. 11. 
if he had proclaimed in so many words, that God had passed an 
unjust sentence on Agag." 

(11.) To many persons, reading their Bibles with unprejudiced 
and simple minds, it may seem as if on this point we were multi- 
plying unnecessary quotations. "Obey my voice," is to them, 
and they feel that it must ever have been to God's saints, all in all, 
without further inquiry. But it seemed desirable to give full ex- 
pression to the patristical view of cases like that of Abraham's 
sacrifice, for the sake of comparing it with a notion which seems 
to find favour with many in our days. Antiquity was content, 
when once it discerned a plain injunction from above : but the 
rciitless ingenuity of this age will not permit us heartily to 
acquiesce in the praises even of such as Abraham, except under 
cover of a certain theory of accommodation. Human sacri- 
fices, we are told, and particularly the sacrifice of children by 
their parents, were notoriously practised by the nations of Canaan : 
God had not yet declared His abhorrence of such sacrifices : they 
were practised in that tirne and country as the most solemn rite 
of religion : therefore, whatever Abraham's feelings might be, his 
conscience was not startled at the command to offer his son — 
it was not yet an enlightened conscience — it partook of the 
barbarity of his time and country : allow for that, and Christians 
may contemplate the sacrifice of Isaac with edification, but with- 
out such allowance it will be a stumbling-block. 

In like manner, the destruction of the Canaanites, the slaugh- 
ter of the Midianitish women by Moses, of the Amalekites and 
Agag by Saul and Samuel, were not blameable in those times, 
because in those times " the laws of war, if so they may be called, 
were so thoroughly barbarous, that no amount of slaughter 
committed against enemies was likely to shock the feelings of 
any one." Samuel, in short, was a half-civilized person, and 
therefore might be justified in putting Agag to death, in obedi- 
ence to the plain command of God ; but " to men in an advanced 
state of moral knowledge and feeling, the command to perpe- 
trate such general slaughter .... would be so revolting, that 
tliey could not and ought not to think that God could possibly 
be the author of it." 


8't Change of Times, no Account of Abraham's Sacrifice : 

iv. 12, 13. (12.) Now, not to dwell here on the fact, that the iniquity of 
the Amorites, in Abraham's time, was declared to be not yet 
full, and that the book of Deuteronomy seems to speak of their 
burning their sons and their dauj^hters in the fire to their gods, 
as the crowning act of that iniquity ; considerations which would 
seem to throw no small doubt on the statement that human sa- 
crifices were usual in Canaan in Abraham's time ; neither would 
that doubt at once be removed by the mention of such sacrifices 
as practised by the Moabiles many generations after : — not to 
insist on the remonstrance of Elisha, " Wouldest thou destroy 
those whom thou hast made captive by thy sword and by thy 
bow ?" as an indication that the then received " laws of war" were 
not in all cases altogether so barbarous as the above argument 
requires : — omitting for the present objections of the historical 
sort, and only just noticing the obvious remark, that the higher 
and gentler a person's general tone of moral feeling, the less 
likely, one should think, would he be to be hurt and corrupted by 
a command to execute vengeance in some isolated case, however 
unsparingly ; — on granting which, the whole speculation vanishes : 
— passing over these and other considerations, the one thing now 
to be observed is, the striking contrast between the tone and 
manner of St. Augustin, and of the modern apology for the Bible ; 
how completely the one mounts above, the other defers to, the 
natural cravings of a refined intellect after full satisfaction and 
explanation ; how fearlessly the one acquiesces in God's will, while 
the other would check us in such acquiescence, by philosophical 
calculations, of the result of such and such conduct on the tempers 
and character of the agent ; how the one, in short, walks entirely 
by faith, the other requires more or less of intellectual sight. 
On that one distinction we might perhaps reasonably join issue, 
which of the two schools may be more safely followed, as a guide 
through the difficulties of Scripture. 

(13.) It will be said, perhaps, that the Fathers themselves have 
given their sanction to this principle of moral accommodation, 
pleading as they do for some of the Old Testament characters, 
the comparative imperfection of the light and strength which 
they enjoyed. But if we mark it well, we shall find this material 
difference between their accommodation, (if it may be so called,) 

although it might explain Injunctions partly Ritual. 85 

and that which has been considered above, — that they never apply § iv. 13, 
it to actions positively commanded or approved of God. It 
belongs either to characters such as Rahab and the midwives of 
Egypt, who were on the whole praised and accepted, in spite of 
s )me immorality in the means they employed ; which immorality, 
iiowever, was less in them than it would have been in us, on 
account of the greater imperfection of their knowledge : — or 
else it appertains to enactments or permissions, having in them 
more or less of a ritual and positive — one might almost say, of a 
sacramental — nature ; " the custom of that time, when the promise 
was veiled, as distinguishable from the custom of this time, when 
the promise is revealed." So writes St. Augustin \ with a view 
especially to the domestic history of the patriarchs. And perhaps 
we might refer to this head the whole subject of the law of mar- 
riage, both before and after the time of Moses, as compared 
with that which had existed in Paradise, and which our Saviour 
renewed in the Christian Church. 

Of this latter class St. Irenaeus is speaking, where, having quoted 
St. Paul's permissive sentences in 1 Cor. vii. he infers', " If even 
in the New Testament we find the Apostles allowing some precepts 
on a principle of condescension, because of the incontinence of 
certain persons, lest such, becoming obdurate and altogether de- 
spairing of their salvation, fall entirely aw'ay from God ; it is no 
wonder, should the same God in the Old Testament also have 
willed something of the kind, alluring His people for their good 
by the aforesaid observances, whereby they might at least learn 
to keep the Ten Commandments, and feel them such a check as 
should prevent their turning to idolatry, and becoming apostates 
from God ; nay, and whereby they might learn to love him with 
their whole heart." Thus Irenaeus, to explain how the Mosaical 
permission of divorce might harmonize with the purer Evange- 
lical Law, coming in its season. It was matter of permission, 
not of commandment; as our Lord Himself hinted to the Phari- 
sees, when they pressed Him with it. For they having asked, 
'• Why did Moses command divorce ?" He in His reply corrected 

' Contr. Faust, xxii. 23. * Lib. iv. 29. 

86 What kind of Moral Accommodation they allowed. 

§ iv. 14. the expression ; " Moses, because of the hardness of your 
hearts, suffered " (not enjoined) " you to put away your wives : 
but from the beginning it was not so." 

(14.) For an illustration of the other kind of moral accommo- 
dation, we may refer to St. Augustin, de Mendacio ^ " Whereas 
it is written, that God dealt bountifully with the Hebrew mid- 
wives, and with Rahab, the harlot of Jericho; that was not because 
of the falsehoods they uttered, but because of the kindness they 
showed to the people of God. It was not then their deceit which 
received a reward, but their good and dutiful affection. . . . For 
as it would not appear strange nor unreasonable, should God in 
consideration of their later good works be willing to forgive cer- 
tain evil works formerly committed by them ; so neither is it any 
thing wonderful, if God at one time and in one transaction be- 
holding both, — a deed of mercy and one of deceit, — did not only 
reward the one as good, but also with a view to that goodness 
did forgive the other which was evil. . . We may understand then 
that to those women, to the one in Egypt, to the other in Jericho, 
was rendered according to their humanity and mercy a reward, 
of this world indeed, but such as might also in prophetic shadow 
represent, unknown to themselves, something eternal. But 
whether at any time it be right to tell a lie, even for the sake of 
saving a man ; this being a question, the solution of which even 
the most learned find a weary task, was of course far beyond 
the compass of ordinary women, dwelling where they did, and 
with the tone of morals they were used to. Accordingly, this 
ignorance of theirs, as also their equal blindness in many other 
things, things which are reserved to be known by the children 
not of this world but of the next ; this ignorance, I say, the 

long-suffering of God endured As to Rahab, when she did 

that deed, — good and laudable, considering her state of life, — she 
was not yet such as that one should require of her, ' Let your 
conversation be Yea, yea, Nay, nay.' But we, in our inquiries 
whether any kind of lie can ever suit a good man, have an eye 
to the case not of an Egyptian, not of one appertaining to 

> § 32. t. vii. p. 341. E. 

Why they always leaned to the favourable Side. 87 

Jericho or Babylon, nor of one who is still a denizen of the § iv. 15. 
earthly Jerusalem, which is in bondage with her children ; but of 
a citizen of that city which is above, our mother eternal in the 

(15.) Hitherto those cases only have been considered, in which 
the approbation of Holy Writ is express ; let us now proceed to 
those which may seem to be left doubtful, being simply recorded, 
with no clear precept or commendation. And here it will be 
obvious to the most cursory examiner, that amidst great indivi- 
dual diversity, the Fathers, as a body, in discussing such cases, 
almost always lean to the favourable side. They do so in a degree 
which to persons with mere modern associations may often ap- 
pear extravagant, sometimes even shocking. In this they might 
be suspected of merely indulging, perhaps unknown to themselves, 
the very natural wish, of being always on the side, as it were, of 
those whom they believed and knew for certain to be on God's si.Ie. 
One might be tempted to allow a good deal for such partiality, 
were it not that the Fathers have themselves explained, fully and 
frankly, the principles on which they so acted. Those principles 
are mainly two : the one, a hearty sense of the Communion 
of Saints, as a still subsisting bond of union between them 
and the Patriarchal and Mosaical ages ; the other (which shall 
be first exemplified) a deep and reverential sense of God's 
peculiar Presence and Interference through the whole of this 
history ; a trembling consciousness that they were near the in- 
visible line which separates His agency from that of His ra- 
tional creatures ; which thought, wherever it becomes habitual, 
will necessarily make a religious man slow to censure, lest he 
be found blaming his Maker's work unawares. This is the ac» 
count of those passages of the Fathers, in which, considering the 
mystical meaning as undoubted, they seem to allege it as stopping 
the mouths of gainsayers. To do any thing like justice to their 
view, we must copy the acute reasoning of St. Augustin him- 

" I lay down this first of all, that not only the tongues of those 

> Contr. Faust, xxii. 24. 

88 Typical meaning of the Patriarch* s Conduct ; 

§ iv. 15. men, but their very lives aho, were prophetical ; that the whole 
kingdom of the Hebrews was as it were a great prophet, great, 
because He is great who was the subject of the prophecy. 
Wherefore in regard of those among them, whose hearts were 
trained in the wisdom of God, we must look for prophecies of the 
Christ who should come, and of His Church, not only in what 
they said, but also in what they did ; in regard of other individuals, 
and of the whole nation collectively, the field of prophecy lies rather 
in what God did with them and for them. For all ' these things,' 
as the Apostle says, ' were our ensamples,' our types or figui*es. 

" And whereas the Manichaeans in certain actions, the depth of 
which they were far from comprehending, blame what they call 
the sensuality of the prophets ; this is no more than parallel to 
the reproaches which are cast by certain sacrilegious heathens on 
our Lord Himself, for folly, or rather for madness, in seeking 
fruit on a tree at an unseasonable time of year, or for a sort of 
childish simplicity, in stooping His head and writing on the 
ground, and after His answer to certain questions beginning to 
do the same again. For why ? they have no wisdom, no sense 
to perceive that in great souls certain excellences resemble 
certain blemishes in the mean and worthless ; there is some 
slight show, but no real fairness in the comparison. And they 
who find such fault with the nobler sort are like untutored boys 
in school, who having learned for a great discovery that singular 
nouns require singular verbs, criticise the most skilful of Latin 
authors for the phrase, ' Pars in frusta secant.' ' For,' say they, 
' he should have written secat.' 

" On which one might perhaps without absurdity remark, that 
the verbal turns and figures of learned men are not further dis- 
tant in their kind from the ungrammatical and barbarous phrase- 
ology of the ignorant, than are the figurative deeds of the 
Prophets from the sensual enormities of bad men. By which 
rule, as a boy, who should plead Virgil's figure by way of 
excuse for bad grammar, would be presently beaten with rods ; 
so should any person guilty of adultery with his servant plead 
Abraham's example, who raised up seed of Hagar, good were 
it for that man to meet with some severer chastisement, and not 

an set forth by August'in and Irenceus. 89 

to be eternally punished with other adulterers. I grant that of § iv. 16. 
these comparisons one side are the merest trifles, the other side 
truly great ; neither does our analogy tend to such a thing as 
making a grammatical figure as important as a mystery, a solecism 
equally culpable with an act of adultery ; only, by proportion, 
in their several kinds, what skill and ignorance are in the virtues 
and vices (so to call them) of language, that, although in a widely 
different kind, are wisdom and folly in those moral virtues and 

(16.) St. Irenseus tnore briefly had taught the same doctrine long 
before, vindicating the harmony of the t«o Testaments against 
the Gnostics, who were in fact but an earlier development of the 
Manichaean school. " The great Revealer '," says he, " is the 
Son of the Father, as being from the beginning with the 
Father. By Him accordingly prophetic visions, and differences 
of gifts, His own ministeries and the Father's glory, have been 
manifested to the race of man, in a certain train and regular 
system, at such time as was expedient. For where things follow 
each other in order, there is consistency and harmony ; and where 
there is harmony, there each thing is suited to the time ; and 
where there is such suitableness, there is true expediency." (This 
is the same principle as was before observed on in Augustin, that 
God's eternal law measures alike all dispensations, but that part 
of that law is a certain equitable consideration of circumstances ; 
and so far Irenaeus too admits a kind of accommodation or moral 
economy.) He goes on : " For this cause the Word became 
Dispenser, Steward, Distributer of the Father's grace, according 
to the needs of mankind, for whose sake He contrived so vast 
arrangements." He proceeds to explain, that one of these 
arrangements or providences was, for the prophets of old time, 
announcing as they did the future vision of Almighty God, to 
see Him, see both the Father and the Son, not properly, but 
" so far as might practise and mould men's thoughts to receive 
that glory, which is hereafter to be revealed to all who love 
God. For not by discourse alone did the Fathers prophesy, but 
also by vision, and conversation, and acts which they wrought 
> Lib. iv. § 37, p. 333, lin. 32. ed. Grabe. 

90 Example: Marriages of Hosea and others. 

§ iv. 17. after the suggestion of the Spirit. In this sense then they 
beheld the invisible God : ... in this sense again they beheld 
the Son of God, who is Man, conversing with men ; . . . and the 
several progressive portions of that work by which He sums iip 
all, they partly beheld in vision, declared partly in words, and 
partly signified as in type by action ; with their eyes beholding 
what God would have seen, by their discourse proclaiming wiiat 
He would have heard, by their acts fulfilling what he would 
have done ; in all, as prophets delivering their message." 

(17.) The instance of revelation by action, which Irenaeus se- 
lects, is the marriage of the prophet Hosea, one of the cases on 
which the adversaries had taken occasion to speak reproachfully '. 
"Christ showed Himself to the prophets in their typical actions, 
so as by them to prefigure and show forth things to come. 'J'hus 
the prophet Hosea took to him 'a wife of whoredoms ;' by that 
act prophesying that the earth should commit great whoredom, 
departing from the Lord ; meaning the men who are on the earth ; 
and that out of such men God would be well pleased to take to 
Himself a Church, to be sanctified by participation of His Son, 
as she was sanctified by communion with the prophet." 

That which Scripture here affirms of the marriage of Hosea, 
viz. both its mystical purport, and its having been contracted by 
Divine order, the Fathers considered to be implied generally in the 
histories of the marriages of Prophets and Patriarchs : and surely 
they had warrant for their opinion, in St. Paul's commentary on 
the narrative concerning Abraham and Hagar, which is quoted 
by Origen (amongst others) for this argument * : " That the 
Scriptural histories of brides and handmaids should be referred 
to the mystical meaning, is no doctrine of ours, but received of 
wise teachers from the beginning ; one of whom thus expressed 
himself, awakening the hearer's mind to the mystical sense, 
* Tell me, ye that desire,' " &c., (quoting the whole passage :) 
and then he subjoins : " Whoever will take up the Epistle to the 
Galatians will know how the allegory is employed in what relates 
to the marriages [of the Patriarchs] and their unions with their 
handmaids : not as though it were the purport of God's Word, 
» Iren. iv. 37, p. 336. 26. » Contr. Cels. iv. 43. t. i. p. 537. C. 

Sacramental Actions not to be lightly censured. 91 

that we should imitate those who did so, in their external and § iv. 18. 
bodily actions, but (as the disciples of Jesus use to call it) in 
their spiritual ones." 

(18.) These remarks of some of the most considerable Fathers 
may serve perhaps both to explain and vindicate the judgment of 
the ancient Church on certain parts of the sacred history. The 
result of this rule is, that whenever an action startling to our 
moral sense is recorded of any of the holy men o( old, more 
especially v^hen it is accompanied with circumstances which 
mark it out clearly as a Mystery or Sacrament of religion, (the 
term Sacrament is used as commonly applied in Antiquity,) in such 
instances, (Scripture being silent as to the moral nature of the 
action,) we cannot be sure that it was not either expressly com- 
manded, like the sacrifice of Abraham, or at least prompted by 
inspiration of the Holy Ghost. It becomes us therefore not to 
criticise, but to adore. 

This idea in various degrees pervades the reflections of the 
Fathers on the case of Rebecca and Jacob, coming by subtlety, 
and taking away what Esau supposed to be his blessing. One 
writer indeed, St. Gregory Nazianzen, has spoken of it in terms 
of censure. He having somewhere occasion to magnify the value 
of a parent's blessing, observes that ^ ** one of the elder saints 
thought it worth obtaining even by stealth, deceiving his father 
by meat and the contrivance of a hairy garment: he pursued a 
noble object by ignoble means." 

But besides St. Gregory, it does not appear that any of the early 
Christian writers hesitated to consider the transaction in the same 
light, wherein it is represented by St. Augustin in the following 
passage*: "That which Jacob did by direction of his mother, so 
as to appear to deceive his father, if you consider diligently and 
faithfully, non est mendacium sed mysterium. Which sort of 
thing, if we term it a lie, by the same rule all parables and figures 
must be also accounted lies. . . . But if we are not prepared to 
call it lying, whensoever words signifying one thing through 
another are employed to communicate any truth ; it is clear that 

* Apol. p. 40. D. t. i ; Paris, 1609. 

* Contr. Mendac. ad Consent, c. 24, t. tI. 337. D. 

92 Example in the case of Jacob and Rebecca. 

§ iv. 18. not only what Jacob said and did to obtain his father's blessing, 
but also the discourse of Joseph, whereby he seemed to beguile 
his brethren, and David's feigning madness, and other things of 
that kind, ought to be acquitted of the guilt of lying, and rather 
to be esteemed prophetic words and actions, to be referred 
[exclusively] to the truths which we were meant to understand 
by them." He regards the whole as a sort of scenery, (if the 
expression may be reverently used,) not only excusable but 
praiseworthy in Rebecca, as being undertaken on intimation of 
God's will. 

St. Ambrose says ', " Rebecca for her part did not so much 
prefer one son to another, as the righteous to the unrighte- 
ous. For in the mind of that pious mother the mystery over- 
weighed the tie of affection. She was not so much preferring 
Jacob to his brother, as offering him to the Lord, who, she knew, 
had power to preserve the gift presented unto him." (This 
seems to mean that in consecrating Jacob to be the first-born, 
she knowingly separated him from herself, and so made a great 
sacrifice.) " Hereby," adds Ambrose, " she provided also for 
Esau, withdrawing him as she did from the Divine displeasure, 
lest he should be involved in deeper guilt, by losing the grace 
of the benediction once received." 

These words mark strongly St. Ambrose's sense of what we 
should call the sacramental nature of the transaction. In sub- 
stance, that view is sanctioned also by St. Chrysostom *. " Re- 
becca," he says, " did this not of her own mind, but in obedience 
to the divine oracle. What then ? a man may say, did God 
co-operate with such a falsehood ? Nay, my brother, consider 
not simply what was done, but look to the purpose : that he did 
it not for any kind of worldly advantage, but sought to attract 
to himself his father's blessing. If we are always to look simply 
to the deed done, and not in every case to regard also the end, 
we shall have for the next thing to call Abraham an infanticide, 
and Phinehas a murderer. But not so . . . for each of them was 
accomplishing a Divine decree. . . . Still more in this case your 
* De Jacob et vita beata, ii. 6. ; t. i. 546. 
=" In Gen. Horn. 43 ; t. i. 415. 7- ed. Savil. 

Tokens of Providence and Mystery in that Transaction. 93 

thoughts are not to dwell on the words of Jacob being formally § iv. 18. 
a falsehood, but you are to understand that God, willing to bring 
His prediction to accomplishment, caused the whole so to take 
place by way of economy." So far St. Chrysostom, who pro- 
ceeds to point out God's hand in many minute details of the 
transaction, such as Isaac's doubts being overruled ; the special 
circumstance of his kissing Jacob, and limiting the blessing to 
him whom he kissed, as by a kind of sacramental sign ; and 
Esau's not returning from the field until the economy was com- 

St. Chrysostom, we see, dwells chiefly on the marks of provi- , 
dential interference in the literal transaction : others have brought 
out in a strong light the allegorical force of the things then said 
and done, from hints given incidentally in other parts of the 
Bible. Thus St. Ambrose ^, not indulging his own fancy, but 
following the tradition of an elder age of tiie Churcli : as appears 
plainlyby St. Jerome's report of t!ie commentary of Hippolytus* 
on this chapter of Genesis : " Jacob went to the flock, and 
brought for his father the offspring of innocency, or the gifts of 
sacred prophecy, because to the patriarch no food he knew 
could be more welcome than that Christ, who was led as a 
sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb to the sacrifice. . . . The 
robe which he wore Rebecca brought out, in her character as 
prefiguring the Church, and assigning to her younger son the 
robe of the Old Testament, the prophetical and sacerdotal robe, 
that royal robe of David, the robe of the kings, Solomon, Heze- 
kiah, Josiah ; she brought out and gave it to the Christian 
people, which would know how to use the favour received. For 
the Jewish people had it without use, and knew not of their own 
rich apparel. This robe was lying in the dimness, cast away and 
neglected. For it was obscured by the dark gloom of irreligion, 
and in the narrow heart of the Jewish people it could not be 
spread out wider. Christ's nation put it on, and it shone forth ; 
illumined by the brightness of their faith and the light of their 
pious acts. Isaac recognized the order oi his race, he knew the 
robe of the elder Scripture, but the voice of the elder people he 

' De Jacob, &c., il. 9 ; t. i. 546. » Ap. Gallaiid. Bill. Patr. t. ii. 485. B. 

94 Tokens of God's /Agency in Conduct otherwise doubtful : 

§iv. 19. (lij not recognise; and thereby he gathered that there was a 
change [of people]. For to this day the same robe remains, but 
a devouter nation hath arisen, and a confession clear and melo- 
dious ; well therefore said he, * The voice is Jacob's voice, but 
the hands are the hands of Esau.' " 

Augustin * adds the selection of the two kids : " He bears 
the sins of others, and he bears them ])atiently, though tliey 
belong to others : for thus it is to wear the skins of the kids ; 
the kids being the scriptural symbol of the two sinful people;" 
(and therefore one of the appointed sin offerings ;) "and Jacob 
wearing them to represent both Christ and His Church in that 
particular, the bearing of other men's burthens." 

He dwells also^ much on Jacob's being declared just before to 
be a man without guile, " aTrXaoroc;" a significant expression, 
leading one to infer that the subtlety so soon afterwards imputed 
to him was no subtlety in a bad sense : it was a figure of speech, 
as when Christ is called a Rock : it was no real fraud, especially 
as Jacob might truly say to his father, that for the purpose in 
question he was his elder son Esau ; for Esau had before that 
made the agreement, sold his birthright, and put Jacob in his 
own place. 

Again ^, there is the conduct of Isaac ; instead of being angry, 
he trembled very exceedingly ; or a sin the LXX, e^eaTrj tVoraorij/ 
fieyaXtiv cr^o^pa : which kind of extasy, commonly happening 
in the revelation of great things, we are to understand that God 
gave him warning in his spirit to confirm the blessing to his 
younger son, who otherwise should have incurred anger by 
deceiving his father. 

Again*, he kissed Jacob before he blessed him, and not Esau : 
confirming peace to the one and not to the other. 

(19.) These are the kind of circumstances, which, to the Fa- 
thers' view, betokened the special agency of the Most High in 
proceedings otherwise questionable, and which, as they thought, 
ought to turn censure into reverence. It will be seen that they 
are reducible to three heads : first, approbation of analogous 

> Serm. iv. § 16 ; t. v. 13. D. » Ibid. § 15—22, 23. 

3 Ibid. § 21. * Ibid. § 24. 

especially as regards Ahraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 95 

conduct in Scripture itself, such as Origen produces in the case of § iv. 20. 
JIagar; secondly, tokens of special providence in the particular 
transaction, such as occurred to Chrysostom in the history of 
Jacob ; thirdly, the use of known symbolical imagery, as marking 
intended adaptation to the Christian mysteries ; which head, as 
we have seen, may be largely illustrated from Augustin and 
Ambrose on the same case. 

It may be added, that they regarded themselves as especially 
bound to notice every thing of this kind, — to be more than com- 
monly afraid to censure, — in treating of the lives of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob. On passing from their history to that of 
others, Augustin, it will be found, changes his tone, so far as to 
be less positive in his vindications where the Scripture is silent. 
The reason is implied in the sentence which forms the transition '. 
" Thus much concerning the three fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, whose God He willed Himself to be called, Who is our 
God, Whom the Catholic Church worships." The Church had 
learned from the beginning to regard them as the chosen repre- 
sentatives of the Head Christ Jesus, and of tlie Body, the 
Church. God was not ashamed to be called their God ; they 
were in a peculiar sense the types of His chosen. His saints ; it 
was wise therefore, and safe, and dutiful, to hold them in espe- 
cial reverence. With this view * Irenaeus, e, g., has expounded 
the whole history of Jacob ; of that one among the three, whose 
right to such honour the disputers of this world would be most 
apt to question. 

(20.) In other cases, as^might be expected, their scrupulousness 
and reverence were mainly in proportion to their sense of the 
mystical meaning. Thus where it is written of Noah, tVuv 
tK Tov o'ivov, Ka\ ifXtQvaQri, Kai lyvfxvCjBr], kv t^ oikw aWov, 
they had no thoughts other than those of deepest reverence, 
considering not only what is so obvious, that the whole was 
involuntary through ignorance on the Patriarch's part, on which 
many of them argue largely * ; but also that which St. Cyprian 
writes, not in the tone of an ingenious inventor, but of one who had 

' Contr. Faust, xxii. c. 59. * Lib. iv. c. 38. 

» E. G. S. Cbrys. in Gen. Horn. 29, t. i. 220. ed. Savil. 

9G Noah and Lot. The Fathers' Sense of the Communion of Saints. 

iv. 21. received it from tradition ecclesiastical \ " We find, in Genesis, 
in the case of Noah, an image of our Lord's Passion ; that he 
drank of the wine, that he was drunken ; that he was naked in 
his own house; that he lay with his limbs bare and extended ; 
that the nakedness was pointed out by his second son, and 
reported abroad, but covered by the other two, the elder and the 
younger : and other particulars not to our present purpose." 

With the case of Lot and his daughters, as might be expected, 
they deal in a much more doubtful tone ; assigning as one reason 
the comparative imperfection of his character, and intimating a 
doubt (at least such is Origen's view *) whether this can fairly 
be reckoned among those narratives which prefigure Christ's 
sacred economy. At the same time they are exact in pointing 
out the probability (to which the air of the narrative certainly 
would lead us) that the women acted under the supposition of 
the whole world besides themselves and their father having 
been destroyed by the fire and brimstone. " They suspected," 
says Origen ^ " that some such thing had happened as they had 
heard of in the days of Noah, and they alone with their father 
were left for the renovation of the human race." 

(21.) This interpretation (in which many of the old writers* 
agree), while it shows that they, contrary to some people's state- 
ments, used their common sense in applying to the sacred history 
the ordinary distinctions and measures of right and wrong, exhibits 
also a clear instance of that other characteristic, which, as w as be- 
fore said, causes them in all their discussions to take the favourable 
side, to a degree which to many moderns lias appeared extrava- 
gant : — their deep sense of the Communion of Saints, as a relation 
really subsisting between them and the Patriarchs and Pro- 
phets, and not merely as a figure of speech. It should seem as 
if this feeling were the natural growth of the other, viz., of the 
reverential consciousness of God's own immediate presence, over- 
ruling the Patriarchs' conduct in such a way, as to make t'.e 

» Ep. 63. ed. Fell. p. 149. 

* Contr. Cels. iv. 45 ; in Gen. Horn. V. 5. ' In Gen. Horn. V. § 4, 5. 

* S. Aug. contr. Faust, xxii. 43 ; S. Iren. iv. 51 ; S. Ambr. de Abrah. i. 56. 

Tradition, against judging harshly of Scripture Characters. 97 

whole a series of links, binding the old dispensations to the neve. § iv. 22. 
Those who really contemplated the matter so, must have looked 
on Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and the rest, as sharers with them in the 
same Sacraments ; not only as spiritual Fathers by the example 
of their faith, but also (since Christ's coming) as brethren in 
His grace. The duty therefore of lenity of supposition, the com- 
mand to impute no evil, would hold in their case with peculiar 
force ; becoming as it did the more affecting, by the sense that it 
was demanded not for the living but for the dead ; and the more 
serious and awful, by the knowledge, that for aught they could 
tell, God's own hand and counsel might be more or less in the 
things which they were blaming. 

(22.) For these reasons we find the Fathers constantly, even 
where the Mystical meaning was entirely concealed from them, or 
where they gave it no direct consideration — we find them check- 
ing to the utmost all inclination to censure the holy men of old 
without express authority. The principle is laid down by 
Irenaeus, in words the more worthy of every believer's atten- 
tion, in that he utters them not as his own, but as the words of a 
certain Presbyter, who had heard them from the eye-witnesses 
and scholars of the Apostles. Irenseus, having stated it as one 
of the marks of a sound teacher, that " he expounds the 
Scriptures to us without peril, neither blaspheming God, nor dis- 
honouring Patriarchs, nor despising Prophets," goes on to record 
the following, as an apostolical tradition*: "That for the old 
Fathers, concerning those things which they wrought without the 
counsel of the Spirit, that censure is sufficient which the Scrip- 
ture itself contains. God is no respecter of persons : — to things 
not done according to His will. He himself annexed that censure 
which was convenient." He instances at large in the cases of 
David and Solomon, concerning whom, he adds', "the aforesaid 
Presbyter affirmed that the rebuke of Holy Writ was sufficient ; 
that no flesh might glory in the presence of the Lord." 

The next sentence, whatever some may think of the statement 
contained iti it, is at least a mark of the ancient Church's anxiety 
to assert for the Patriarchs, as was just now observed, a part in the 
• Lib. iv. 45. p. 346. ed. Grab. » Ibid. p. 346. 

VOL. VI. — 89. H 

98 Use to be made of the Failures of holy Men of old : 

§ iv. 22. Communion of Saints. " For this cause, that ancient Presbyter 
went on to say, the Lord descended to the regions under the earth, 
declaring to them also the good tidings of His advent ; remission 
of sins being appointed for them only who believe. Now those 
believed in Him, whosoever were before hoping in Him, i. e. 
those who foretold His coming, and did the work of His mysteri- 
ous providences, righteous men, and Prophets, and Patriarchs. 
Their sins He forgave as he did ours : which sins, therefore, it 
becomes us not any more to lay to their charge ; except we think 

scorn of the grace of God For all men need the glory of 

God, and are justified not of themselves, but by the coming of the 
Lord: those I mean who look steadily on His light. 

*' He taught moreover that their acts were written for our 
reproof, that we might know this first, that there is one God, both 
ours and theirs, whom sins cannot please, though wrought by 
renowned persons. Next, that we might keep ourselves from evil 
things. For if those elders who went before us in Gou's special 
graces, for whom the Son of God had not yet suffered, were 
visited with such disgrace, if they transgressed in some one thing, 
and became slaves to fleshly concupiscence ; what shall this gene- 
ration suffer, as many as have despised the coming of the Lord, 
and turned utter slaves to their own pleasures !....* We ought 
not then,' said that Presbyter, ' to be proud, nor to reproach the 
ancients, but ourselves to fear, lest haply after the knowledge of 
Christ, if we do any thing which pleases not God, we no longer 
have remission of our sins, but find ourselves shut out of His 
kingdom.' " 

A little farther on ' he produces the authority of the same Presby- 
ter for this sentiment: "As on account of those sins which the Scrip- 
tures themselves lay tot he charge of the Patriarchs and Prophets, 
we are not to reproach them, nor become like Ham, who derided 
his father's shame, and fell under the curse ; but rather to thank 
God for them, that their sins were forgiven them in the coming 
of our Lord : even as they, he said, give thanks, and are glorified 
in our salvation : — So concerning those deeds which the Scriptures 
reprove not at all, but simply relate them, we ought not, he said, 
1 Lib. iv. cap. 60. 

exemplified by Irenceus in Lot, Adam, and Abraham. 99 

to become accusers ; (for we are not more exact than God, § iv. 22. 
neither can we he above our Master) but we ought to look out 
for the spiritual meaning. For whatsoever things are set down 
in the Scriptures without censure, not one of them is idly set 
down, nor without meaning." 

And then * he gives the example of Lot and his daughters, 
adopting (it is not Irenseus, observe, but the apostolical Presbyter) 
that interpretation which Origen, as we have seen, doubted of as 
too favourable. A thing much to be remarked by those, who 
think little of the Mystical metliod, as supposing it a figment of 
Platonism, or a contrivance of a later school in the Church. 

A signal example of the mildness above inculcated had been 
given by the same Irenaeus a little before', in arguing against 
Tatian, who denied the possibility of Adam's salvation. He con- 
trasts Adam's proceedings even after his fall with those of the 
Evil Spirit, and says, *' It was another who seduced him under 
pretence of immortality ; and being seduced, he presently fears, 
and hides himself; not as though he could escape God, but in 
his confusion, because having transgressed His command, he is 
unworthy to come to the sight or speech of God. Now the fear 
of the Lord is the beginning of understanding : the understanding 
of sin causes penitence : and to the penitent God vouchsafes His 
mercy. Moreover, by his girdle or apron he manifested his 
penitence in the way of significant action : .... as though he 
had said, ' By disobedience I have lost that robe of holiness 
which I had from the Holy Spirit: I now acknowledge that I 
deserve that sort of vesture, which can give no pleasure, but galls 
and vexes the body.' And this dress evidently he would always 
have worn, humbling himself, had not God, who is merciful, 
clothed them with coats of skins instead of the fig-leaves." 

Another case very much in point is their view of the conduct 
of Abraham in Egypt, making known Sarah as his sister, not as 
liis wife: it was no falsehood, as he himself explained afterwards, 
and, that there was in it no unfaithful timidity, Augustin' argues 
on this ground : that " it is a sound precept, when a man has 

» Cap. 51. » Lib. iii. 37. 

» Contr. Faust, lib. xxii, 36. 

H 2 

100 Mitigating Circximstances allowed for : Moses and Aaron. 

§ iv. 23. any resource, not to tempt the Lord his God : and that our 
Saviour Himself set an example to that purpose, both by flying 
into Egypt in his childhood, and by going up to a certain feast 
not openly but as it were in secret. ... So Abraham among 
strangers, because of the exceeding beauty of Sarah finding him- 
self in a double danger, both of her honour and her husband's 
life, and not being able to protect both, but having it in his 
power to do something for one of the two, i. e. his own life ; that 
he might not tempt his God, he took what precaution he could ; 
and where he could do nothing, that cause he committed to his 

One may observe in passing, that the suspicion of any parti- 
cular want of faith in Abraham on that occasion is greatly lessened 
by what he afterwards told Abimelech ' : that the concealment 
of his marriage was not a measure to which they were driven 
by the present alarm, but one which they had constantly used 
by way of precaution since they first set out on their pilgrimage. 
(23.) Elsewhere the rule of favourable construction is applied, 
where the act is allowed to be censurable, with a view to mitigation, 
not entire acquittal. Thus Aaron is conjectured by Augustin' 
to have proposed to the Israelites the breaking off their ear-rings, 
with a view to withdraw them by the hardness of the command 
from their idolatrous intention. Thus Theodoret*, relating the 
oversight of Moses in striking the rock, insists carefully on the 
many circumstances which might seem, according to human mea- 
sures, to render an expression of impatience for the moment 
completely venial. " They (Moses and Aaron) being out of 
heart at their sister's death, the people set on them, mutinying 
for want of water ; they, therefore, impatient at such extreme 
unruliness, used words of equivocal meaning on bringing out the 
water, ' Must we fetch you water out of this rock?' in a tone as 
if he doubted, so great was his wrath with them. It was, how- 
ever, a doubt not of the soul but of the lips only : for so the 

* Gen. XX. 13. 

* QusBst. in Exod. 141. t. 3. pars i. 347: comp. Theodoret on Exod. qu. 
66. t. i. 170. 

3 In Num. qn. 37- t. i. 245. 

Lenity in judging even of questionable Characters. 101 

Greek Bible expresses it, SUvrfiXey, he made a distinction, or § iv. 24. 
hesitated, with his lips." " However," adds Theodoret, " we 
must not forget that God pronounced this sentence (of exclusion 
from the promised land) with a view to another dispensation 
which He was carrying on." Here we see plainly the studious 
apologist : yet who can deny that the tone is right and scriptural ? 

(24.) The same lenity of supposition is sometimes extended to the 
conduct of persons, concerning whose general character Scripture 
is either silent, or at first sight might appear condemnatory. Thus 
of Rachel stealing her father's images, Theodoret writes \ ** Some 
say, Rachel stole them out of an affection she still entertained 
for them ; I, quite on the contrary, suppose that, desiring to free 
her father from superstition, she did, as it were, make prize of 
them : for of her general piety we are certified by the divine 
Scripture." Having confirmed this by several texts, he proceeds 
to suggest a prophetic meaning. "Jacob was a type of the Lord 
of all : for, as God had two peoples, — the elder, having a veil 
upon its heart, the younger, endowed with the beauty of faith ; 
even so Jacob, two wives, Leah, tender-eyed, Rachel, beautiful 
and well-favoured ; the elder with many children, the younger 
barren : for the Church also of the Gentiles of old was barren, 

but became afterwards very fruitful Since then, the 

Church, upon faith in God our Saviour, pulled up by the roots 
the error of her forefathers, Rachel, being a type of that 
Church, stole the idols of her father, that herein also she might 
offer a dim shadow of the truth." Here one is tempted to 
remark, how much we may lose by the cold and dry way in 
which we are apt to read the sacred history, as mere matter of 
criticism, historical, or moral, contrasted with the high and 
thrilling views, wherewith the ecclesiastical rules of interpretation 
reward those who fairly adopt them. 

Other instances of the like lenity, applied even to persons more 
clearly in the wrong, may be found in Theodoret' on the histories 
of Ihamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, and of the Bethel* 

> In Gen. qu. 90. t. i. p. 98. ' Ibid. qu. 95. p. 103. 

» In 3 Reg. qu. 43. t. i. 487—490. 

102 Lenity of Comment on the New Testament History. 

§iv 25, 26. Prophet, whose advice caused the death of the messenger sent 
to Jeroboam. 

(25.) J fortiori, one should expect the like mildness in the com- 
ments of Antiquity on the New Testament. One instance may be 
here given, because it relates to a matter which is and has been 
much misinterpreted : St. Paul's condescension in the matter of cer- 
tain Jewish observances. " God forbid," exclaims St. Augustin ', 
" that we should account him to have done this deceitfully. For 
on this subject his sentence is well known ; that neither such 
Jews as then believed in Christ should be forbidden the tradi- 
tions of their fathers, nor the Gentiles, on becoming Christians 
be forced to observe the same : lest on the one hand those holy 
mysteries, which were known to rest on the Divine command, 
should come to be shunned as profanations, — on the other, to be 
accounted necessary to salvation for all who turned to God under 

the New Testament St. Paul's saying, therefore, * I am 

made all things to all men,' tells us what he did in the way of 

sympathy, not in the way of deceitful accommodation 

He is made as a Jew to the Jews, not by deceiving them, but by 
putting himself, in thought, in their place and mind." 

(26.) Thus far by way of illustration of the two chief principles, 
by which antiquity seems to have been guided, in commenting on 
the startling and painful portions of the history of God's ancient 
people. One more general observation remains ; it is a negative 
statement, and requires a much larger induction than at present 
it professes to rest upon ; but it is submitted to the judgment of 
those who are really versed in ancient theology. Whether the 
Fathers do in any case plead the Mystical meaning of a trans- 
action as any excuse for it, granting it indeed immoral. The 
Mystery comes in, to show that God's hand was in what took 
place, and often, among other circumstances, may lead to the 
supposition of an express command from God, and so may 
indirectly tend to do away with the immorality : but the whole 
tone of their commentaries indicates, and sometimes they ex- 

* Contra Mendac. ad Consent. § 26. t. vi. 339 : compare his correspondence 
with St. Jerome, t. ii. 64, 131, 148, &c. 

The Mystery never alleged to palliate the Sin. 103 

pressly disavow, any thought of palliating guilt by the simple § iv. 27. 
fact of the action being afterwards found typical. Thus St. 
Augustin', examining in order the cavils of the Manichaeans, 
against one narrative after another, premises in every case his 
literal defence or explanation, before he touches the sacramental 
or mysterious meaning. Thus Theodoret ", although as firmly as 
any one adhering to the mystical mode of exposition, advances 
in mitigation those circumstances only, which may be gathered 
from the letter, in such histories as those of Noah, Lot, and 
Thamar. Thus even St. Ambrose, who seems to have been most 
passionately carried away by his admiration of the elder saints, 
and most afraid to exercise any judgment of his own upon their 
conduct — and who in his second Apology for David, to which 
may be added some expressions abou! the incest of Judah, comes, 
perhaps, as near as any writer to a questionable plea from the mys- 
tical interpretation, as though it in some degree palliated the sin, — 
even he, we shall find, does not enter on the consideration of the 
Mystery at all, before he has used considerations drawn from the 
literal history to adjust tlie degree of censure required by the case*. 

(27.) If we pass from these indications of caution, to express 
disavowals by the Fathers of immoral use of the mystical princi- 
ple, we meet witii one in St. Ambrose himself^, remarking on the 
conduct of Aaron, in assisting the Israelites to make an idol. 
" That renowned High Priest we can never acquit, nor yet 
dare we altogether condemn him. However, he was not without 
a special meaning in taking away the rings and jewels of the 
Jews ; for they who were plotting sacrilege could not have the 
seal of faith." 

Thus St. Ambrose: and his scholar St. Augustin repeats the 
same caution many times. For example*, "The conduct of 
Lot and his daughters we do not justify, on the ground of its 
having had a meaning, whereby it foretold the perverseness of 
some in future times. Their purpose in so acting was one, 
God's purpose in permitting such actions, with a view to certain 

' Contr, Faust. 1. xxii. » In Gen. qu. 5G, 70, 95. 

» T. i. 823. &c. « Ep. C8. 

' Contr. Faust, xxii. 41. t. vi. 273. 

104 Temper in which Bible History should be read. 

§ iv. 28. typical instruction, another ; His just judgment abiding the while 
on the sin of the persons then living, and His providence watch- 
fully securing the mystical representation of others to come long 
after. The deed then related in Holy Scripture is a prophecy ; 
considered in their conduct who performed it, it is a crime." 

Again, in speaking of the incest of the patriarch Judah : the 
truth of the spiritual meaning, he says, and the criminality of the 
act, may well stand together'. "The conduct of Judah, in 
regard of his unbridled passion, was evil, but without his know- 
ledge it presignified an exceeding good : and let this caution 
stand for all other evil deeds of men, whereby He who records 
their history hath seen fit to prophesy good to us." 

(28.) It is not of course pretended that the Fathers acted in all 
cases up to their own rule: so many of them, writing so miscellane- 
ously, all of like passions with us. But it is believed that the rules 
above illustrated will go a good way towards explaining the diflfer- 
ence between their theology and ours, in what may be called the 
casuistry of the historical Scriptures. And we, perhaps, should 
read Bible history to more advantage, if we tried to keep the 
same principles in view ; the principle, namely, of reverencing 
throughout the mysterious connexion of that history, even the 
most startling portions of it, with the Economy of our Salvation by 
the Son of God : and the principle of entire respect for the Saints 
of the Old Covenant ; fearing to censure them where Scripture is 
silent ; welcoming all reasonable topics of mitigation even where 
they are clearly blameable; never rudely sitting in judgment on 
them, but looking up to them as to elder brethren, who might of 
course err, but whom it is no part of ours to reprove, feeling as 
we must in every part of their history, read by the light of Chris- 
tian faith, that we are even now with them in the more immediate 
presence of our common Lord and Father. 

It may be, that thus our notions may remain unsettled, on 
many actions recorded in the Bible : of which we would gladly 
know what to think, both for our own and other men's satisfaction. 
What then ? it is one of the tokens of true theology, to acknow- 

> Conlr. Faust. § 82. p. 292, 3. 

Reverence for the Saints, a Safeguard to Faith. 105 

ledge doubtfulness and perplexity, more or less, in every subject. § iv. 28. 
A religious man would not think hinr)self at liberty to question 
God's moral government, because of the embarrassment con- 
tinually occasioned by the inconsistencies of the good, and the 
general difficulty of discerning men's real character ; how then 
dare any one positively insist on full satisfaction in his view of 
the conduct of God's Saints ? As it is, the doubtfulness of many 
things has this advantage, sufficient to outweigh much annoyance ; 
that it lessens the apparent difference between the scenes of 
Scripture and common life ; lessens the temptation to forget how 
near God is to us ; helps us to feel our true condition, as full of 
supernatural wonders, could we but realize them, as ever was 
that of the Jews and patriarchs of old. 

Moreover, the habit of thus considering Scripture will prove 
in some respects an important doctrinal safeguard. The Saints 
(be it spoken with all reverence) were types of the Almighty; 
their conduct in many respects analogous to His economies ; 
and if we use ourselves to speak or think of them hastily and 
irreverently, the transition will be found less violent than some 
might imagine, to irreverent ways of speaking and thinking of 
Him. Those who can bring themselves to talk superciliously, 
and judge by mere modern measures, of the conduct of Abraham 
or Jacob, or of the destruction of the Canaanites, are perhaps in a 
fair way to question the reality of the Atonement, or the eternity 
of the wrath to come. 

Lastly, the same considerations may prove available, in some 
material parts of discipline, devotional and moral ; — teaching us 
to acquiesce with things which we cannot account for, in the con- 
duct of those who are more experienced in God's service than 
ourselves, and especially assisting us to recognize the overruling 
Arm, even in the worst excesses and perversions of men, and to 
take all tranquilly, knowing from Whom it comes. 

The subject which will naturally come next in order, is the 
Fathers' application of the Mystical Principle to the exposition 
of the New Testament. 

106 Objections to allegorizing the New Testament, 

§ V. — Ancient Mysticism as applied to the Interpretation of the 
New Testament. 

§ V. 1. The object of this section is, allowing the fact, that the ancient 

interpreters did apply the mystical principle very largely to the 
New Testannent, to point out some of the rules by which they 
conducted that process, the limits within which they confined 
it, and the good purposes, which, under such rules and limits, 
it was calculated to answer. 

But the very mention of mystical interpretation, as applied to 
the Christian Scriptures, suggests in limine a plausible objection, 
which it may be as well to anticipate in some measure, before 
proceeding any further. It may and will be said, " Whatever one 
may think of the degree and manner in which they allegorized the 
Old Testament, all must allow that to a certain extent they were 
borne out by Scripture in so doing. But to allegorize the New 
Testament at all, what is it but turning the substance into a 
shadow, and by consequence unsettling the very foundations of 
religion?" Those accordingly, who wish to be very severe upon 
the Fathers, have thought proper, in treating of this head, to 
make mention of the wild and cloudy dreamsof the early Quakers', 
and other modern enthusiasts ; as if the two things admitted 
some kind of comparison. 

Again, taking another point of view, it may be argued that 
such a line of interpretation coincides too nearly with that which 
St. Paul so earnestly deprecates in the Epistle to the Galatians. 
This, it may be said, is the very essence of the Law, that it had 
but a shadow of good things to come. By allegorizing the Gos- 
pel, you are so far making it also a shadow ; and what is this 
but going back to the Law, and incurring at once all the ana- 
themas which the zealous Apostle pronounces on all such dis- 
turbers of Christian perfection? 

This way of objecting would be as just as it sounds plausible, 
if either the truth of the New Testament history, or what we 
may call the completeness of the dispensation, were impugned by 

» E. g. Whitby, p. 8 J 345 ; & Pref. p. Ix. 

as touching on its Truth, and Completeness : obviated. 107 

the mystical interpretations current in antiquity. But such is by § v. 2. 
no means the case. As to the truth of the history ; something 
was said in a former section, to show that even Origen and his 
followers, who are most censurable on that head, never thought 
of denying or doubting the main facts; and that even where they 
speak most freely of minor details, as though the apparent dis- 
crepancies of the evangelical narrative could only be reconciled 
by supposing an admixture of allegory, it is not so much real 
contradiction, which they impute to ihe sacred historians, as an 
appearance of contradiction, which they assume to be intended 
and providential. 

Again, as to the other point, of completeness ; the danger of 
sweeping negatives is proverbial, yet 1 suppose one might safely 
challenge the production from any orthodox writer, or from any 
of the school of Origen who had not been condemned as a heretic, 
of a single passage, tending to make out the Gospel scheme im- 
perfect, in the sense here alleged, — Judaically imperfect — a shadow 
and forerunner of better things to come even on this earth ; or 
as any other than the last and best of God's appointed ways of 
preparing His banished for restoration. Those blasphemies were 
reserved for such as Manes and Mahomet, and for that kind of 
inBdelity, so current in our days, which, allowing that the Gospel 
was well enough in its time, expects more, however, in this and 
in coming generations, from the spirit of the age, than from the 
Spirit of the Church. We do not find even Oiigen's licentious 
disciples, who incurred Church censures in the fifth general 
council, stigmatized with any opinion of the kind. 

History then does not warrant our attributing either of the 
supposed ill tendencies to the mystical way of expounding the 
New Testament ; and a little consideration will show that in rea- 
son and argument they are quite separable from it : as will be 
presently evident, on proceeding to inquire calmly, what this 
Mysticism, which has such an ill name, really amounts to ; and 
on what great principles it is grounded. 

(2.) The nature and amount of it may be best understood, by 
])roducing a few examples ; which will serve also incidentally to 
show how early it prevailed in the Church of God, and by what 

108 New Testament Allegory : our Lord's Parables : 

§ V. 2. high authorities it was utidoubtingly sanctioned. Hear, for instance, 
St. Clement of Alexandria, descanting on the circumstances of 
the parable of the Good Samaritan. " Which of the three," says 
our Lord, " was neighbour to the sufferer ?" The other answer- 
ing, *' He that showed mercy on him ;" " Who then," says 
Clement', " is our neighbour, rather than the Saviour Himself? 
To whom, rather than to Him, are we indebted for pity, all but 
slaughtered as we were by the rulers of the darkness of this world, 
with so many wounds, with fears, desires, angers, griefs, deceits, 
pleasures ? Of all these wounds the only healer is Jesus, cutting 
out entirely every passion by the roots, not as the Law did, the 
produce merely, the fruits of tlie pernicious plants, but laying His 
own axe to the roots of iniquity. This is He who pours the 
wine, the blood of the vine of David, into our wounded souls ; 
who from the tender mercies of the Father brings oil, and that 
in abundance : this is He who makes known to us the indissolu- 
ble bands of health and salvation ; charity, faith, hope ; this is He 
who hath enjoined angels and authorities and powers to minister 
to us for a great reward : i. e. for the deliverance which them- 
selves also shall receive from the vanity of the world at the 
revelation of the glory of the Sons of God." 

Besides the main lesson or moral of the parable, he assumes 
it to be full of designed allusions (and surely as he exhibits 
them they are very beautiful allusions) to the mystery of the 
Gospel, the process of our salvation by Christ. Neither would it 
be safe to attribute this to the play of Clement's own imagina- 
tion, or to the manner of the Alexandrian school. For we find 
the same turn given to the parable by Irenaeus, a far graver and 
less diffuse writer, and trained in a remote part of the Church, 
where there is no cause to believe that the writings of Philo or 
other Jewish mystics had any particular influence. Irenaeus, the 
disciple of Polycarp, argues thus on a circumstance of this 
parable ' : " The dew of God [the Holy Ghost] is necessary to 
us, that we be not scorched nor made unfruitful, and that where 
we have an accuser, there also we may have an advocate [Para- 

• De Div. Servand. § 29. p. 952. ed. Potter. » Lib. iii. 19. p. 244. ed. Grab. 


Clement and Irenceus on the good Samarilan. 109 

cletum] : For the Lord commends to the Holy Ghost that man § v. 3. 
of His who had fallen among thieves, whom Himself pitied, and 
bound up his wounds ; him Christ commends to the care of the 
Holy Spirit, giving two pence, of royal coinage : in order, that 
we, who receive by the Spirit the image and inscription of the 
Father and the Son, may improve the penny committed to us, 
accounting for it with manifold increase to our Lord." 

It will be perceived that Irenaeus is even more express than 
Clement, in sanctioning the allegorical exposition of this parable. 
Clement's language might be accounted for, by supposing him 
merely to be indulging in a vein of half poetical allusion ; but 
Irenaeus produces his exposition as a theological argument 
against an error of the Gnostics ; a part of whose creed was, 
that the yE&n Christ descended on the Man Jesus at His Bap- 
tism. In opposition to which, St. Irenaeus, maintaining, of 
course, that it was the Holy Spirit which so descended, pro- 
ceeds to show by many scriptural arguments, how conformable 
that circumstance was to the office assigned to the Comforter in 
the economy of salvation: e. g. to His regenerating influence in 
Baptism ; to the miracle of Pentecost, as fulfilling the promise 
of our Lord; to the images of water, and dew, under which He 
is repeatedly described : and for his last instance he adduces, as 
we have seen, the circumstance of the good Samaritan on his 
departure committing the rescued traveller to another's care, 
until Himself should return ; this Irenaeus brings forward as 
a known and acknowledged type of the office of the Holy 
Ghost, so well known and acknowledged, as to warrant him in 
reasoning from it to the interpretation of disputed passages. 

So early, and in such high quarters, do we find warrant for 
considering our Lord's parables, with a view not only to the 
immediate moral of each, but also to certain hints of things 
future or supernatural, which even their minute details are sup- 
posed to convey ; which is one considerable branch of New 
Testament Mysticism. 

(3.) Another, and a yet more extensive one, relates not to His 
words, but to His conduct. It consists in tracing through details, 
apparently indiflferent, of what befel our Divine Master on earth, 

1 1 New Testament Allegory : our Lord's History : 

§ V. 4. providential illustrations of His dealings with His people, or of 
their future fortunes, trials, and behaviour. To take an instance 
which occurs not seldom, and is met with very early : the minute 
enumeration, varying in the different Evangelists, of the cir- 
cumstances attending His last entry into Jerusalem. Justin 
Martyr, in his dialogue with Tryphon, writes thus of a part of 
the dying prophecy of Jacob ' : •' The expression, ' binding his 
foal to the vine, and his ass's colt to the choice vine,' was a 
foreshowing of the works wrought in His first coming, and of 
the Gentiles also, who were to believe in Him. For these were 
as a foal that had never borne a burden, nor taken any yoke 
upon his neck, until such time as this our Christ came, and sent 
His disciples, and mad« them followers of His own. Then 
they submitted to the yoke of His word, and bowed their backs 
to endure all things, for the blessing's sake which they waited 
for, and which he had foretold. And in fact, there was a certain 
she-ass with her colt, bound at the entrance of a certain village, 
by name Bethphage, wliich our Lord Jesus Christ, on the point 
of entering Jerusalem, commanded His disciples to bring to Him, 
and sitting thereon. He made His entry into the city. Which 
being notoriously done by Him, according to what had been pro- 
phesied of the future doings of Christ, made it evident that He 
was the Christ. . . But as to the circumstance, that the Prophe- 
tic Spirit agrees with the Patriarch Jacob, in mentioning the ass 
before accustomed to the yoke, as well as her colt, ... as also 
that He Himself enjoined His disciples, as I said before, to bring 
both animals ; these things were a prophetic intimation to those 
also of your synagogue, who should concur with certain of the 
Gentiles in believing on Him. For as the colt unharnessed was 
a sign to those of the Gentiles, so also to those of your peo- 
ple the she-ass under her burthen. For the law given you by 
the Prophets is as a burthen laid on you." 

(4.) The same interpretation is mentioned by Origen : accompa- 
nying it however, as his manner is, with a conjecture of his own, 
which on the whole he seems to prefer. " I know," he writes S 

» P. 272. C. ed. 1736. » In Joan. torn. x. 18. t. iv. 190. D. 

Justin and Origen on His Entry into Jerusalem. Ill 

" that some have interpreted the ass tied, to be the believers of the § v. 4. 
Circumcision, released from many bonds by those who truly and 
spiritually had become disciples of the Word. The colt, on the 
other hand, they expound to be the Gentile believers, who were 
at large before they received the doctrine of Jesus, and who in 
respect of their unbridled and self-pleasing ways, might be 
regarded as having shaken off every yoke. These expounders 
have omitted the circumstance of the multitude going before and 
following. However, one might perhaps, with some plausibility, 
make the former answer to Moses and the prophets, the latter 
to the Holy Apostles, entering all together into some mystical 
Jerusalem ;" the meaning of which he next proceeds to point 

The whole passage may serve as an instructive specimen of the 
difference between Origen and the generality of the Fathers. 
The exposition which he produces as second best, is evidently 
that in which the Church commonly acquiesced ; as may further 
appear from the sanction afterwards given to it both by Ambrose 
and Augustin — Ambrose thus expressing himself^ : '* Well is it 
written, ' on which never man sate ;' since none ever before Christ 
called the Gentile nations into the Church." Augustin again, 
speaking as of an allowed point * : " By the ass's colt on which 
never man iiad sat, we understand the people of the Gentiles, 
who had not received the law of the Lord. By the she-ass, 
(since both beasts were brought to the Lord) that portion of His 
congregation which came from the people of Israel ; not alto- 
gether untamed, but such as to have known her master's 

But Origen, not contented with this prophetical interpretation 
of the event in question, states also as possible, and recommends 
as on the whole preferable, the following moral interpretation of 
the same: which however he advances (it is but justice to him 
to remark it) with expressions denoting unaffet-ted reverence and 
modesty '. " Jesus," he conjectures, " is the Word of God, en- 
tering into the soul, here called Jerusalem, borne on the she- 

1 In Luc. lib. ix. 5. * In Joan. Tract. 61. § 6. t. iii. pars i. p. 462. A. 
» In Joan. x. t. iv. 189. E. 

112 Origen joins Moral with Type in our Lord's History. 

§ V. 6. ass which His disciples had loosed from her bonds : i. e. on the 
uncorrupt writings of the Old Testament expounded by the 
disciples, whose business it is to solve them, and who are two in 
number : i. e. the two kinds of mystical interpretation, the 
moral and the prophetical : the one referring all things that are 
written to the healing of the soul, and with that view allegorizing 
them ; the other exhibiting the good and true things to come, 
through those set before us in shadow. But He rides also on 
the young colt, the New Testament ; (for in both we may find the 
word of truth,) to purify us, and expel those thoughts which buy 
and sell within us. And into Jerusalem, the soul, He enters not 
alone, nor yet with some few only ; for many things must take 
place in us to go before the Word of God, which protects us, and 
very many to follow Him; all however hymning and praising 
Him, and spreading under Him their own array and vesture, that 
those which are His vehicles may not touch the earth, while He 
deigns to abide on them, who came down from Heaven." 

Such is Origen's descant on this part of our Lord's history : 
into which he was probably led, as was before hinted, by his 
wish to preserve as much as might be of the moral mysticism of 
Philo and others, in addition, not in preference, to the kind of 
allegory more properly Christian. Whatever may be thought 
of the general principle, it will perhaps be allowed, that in this 
instance it is beautifully applied, and may remind us of one of 
the Advent Hymns of Bishop Taylor*. 

(5.) The arguments too are not contemptible by which Origen in 
the first instance vindicates the looking out for some mystical 
meaning in this passage ^ " I should like to ask those who 

» Works, XV. 77. ed. Heber. 

" Ride on triumphantly : behold, we lay 
Our lusts and proud wills in Thy way. 
Hosanna ! welcome to our hearts. Lord, here 
Thou hast a Temple too, and full as dear 

As Sion, and as full of sin. 
Nothing but thieves and robbers dwell therein — 
Enter, and chase them forth, and cleanse the floor," &c. 
2 T.iv. 187. D. 

Mystical Allusions to Water in the New Testament. 113 

think that nothing beyond the literal history was in St. Matthew's § v. 6. 
mind vvlien writing his Gospel, what was the urgent necessity of 
sending the two disciples into the village over against Bethphage, 
to find and loose tlie ass tied, and the colt with her, and bring 
them to Jesus? What was there especially worth recording in 
the fact that our Lord sat on the ass and colt, and so entered 
into the city ? ... If the prophecy of Zechariah merely predict 
the outward and bodify event as narrated by the evangelists, let 
us see how those who stay themselves on the letter keep entire the 
connecting thread of the prophecy ; what they make of the passage 
immediately following, about cutting off the chariot from Ephraim, 
and the horse from Jerusalem, &c. (an argument," he adds, 
" wherewith the Jews press us not slightly.) . . . They can- 
not say that the two animals were needed on account of the 
length of the way, that being only fifteen fiarlongs. . . . Nor do 
I suppose that it suits well with the majesty of the Son's Divi- 
nity, to say that so great a Being avowed Himself to have need 
of an ass tied, and a colt with her." 

There are other particulars which he mentions : but these may 
suffice for a specimen of the kind of criticism, by which the 
allegorical method was supported, when it began to be called in 
question : which does not appear to have been until Origen's 
time ; the attack being most likely provoked by his incautious 
use of it. Certainly there seems to be a good deal of weight in 
such points of detail as he here alleges, not so much in behalf of 
his particular interpretation, as in establishing the general fact, 
that some spiritual meaning lies hid in these things ; and if in 
them, then by parity of reasoning in other narratives, the parti- 
culars of which are (speaking humanly) as unaccountable as in 
this instance. 

(6.) It may be worth while to add on this head one passage from 
TertuUian, as a striking example of the manner in which those 
primitive readers of the New Testament caught up things which 
we esteem casual and transient, and improved them to spiritual 
purposes. He is showing how full Scripture is of allusions to the 
doctrine of Salvation by Water, and thus he sums up the incidental 

VOL. VI. — 89. \ 

i 1 4 Mysticism of the Nefv Testament 

§ V. 7. evidence of the Gospel history on that subject ' : " Christ is 
found never without Water ; since Himself Jilso is baptized in 
Water. It is by Water, at a marriage feast, that He makes what 
tnay be called the first inaugural essay of His power. In His 
discourse He invites the thirsty to that Water which is His, and 
eternal. Teaching of charity, he selects among works of kindness 
for a special approbation, a cup of Water offered to a brother. It is 
by a Well that he recruits His strength ; He walks on the Water, 
as though of set purpose ; He [repeatedly] passes the Lake ; He 
ministers Water to His disciples ; nay, His testimony concerning 
baptism lasts even to His passion ; when He is surrendered to 
crucifixion, Water comes in — witness the hands of Pilate ; when 
He is wounded. Water bursts from His side — witness the spear 
of the soldier." 

(7.) To this head belong the many spiritual allusions, which 
the ancient commentators seem to themselves to find, in the 
Names of places and persons, throughout our Lord's history. 
The principle on which they proceeded is laid down in a fragment 
of St. Clement of Alexandria* : "When we are accurately searching 
the Scriptures, since it is acknowledged that they are written in 
parables, we ought by the names to trace out those notions of the 
things, which were, so to speak, in the mind of the Holy Ghost, 
and which He there teacheth, having stamped His own meaning 
on the words." 

And for this they seemed to find warrant, not only in the 
speculations of Pythagoras, (whom Clement quotes in illustration 
of his maxim,) and in the natural forebodings of mankind in 
general, as expressed in a well-known and very noble stanza of 
iEschylus ^ ; but also still more in the history of the Old Testa- 
ment, abounding as it does with names, both of persons and places, 

» De Bapt. c. 9. * P. 998, Ed. Potter. 

• Agam. 689, Ed. Butler, tiq iror dtvo/iaZiv w5* 

Ic rb irav trijri'/iwc. 

Hfi TIC, ^vriv ovx opSifitv, 

wpovoiaffi row rrtirpwfikvov 

yXiiffaav tu TVXf vkfiuv ; k. t. X. 

regarding the Names of Persons and Places. 115 

imposed (if one may so speak) sacramentally ; i. e. by way of 5 v. 8. 
token from the Most High of some future event, or hidden pur- 
pose. It probably seemed to Origen and those who followed him, 
but an extension of the same rule of interpretation, when they took 
pains (e.g.) to ascertain the Hebrew meaning of the names of the 
Baptist and his parents. " It may be profitable," he says ', " as 
in many cases the true force of names is worth knowing, so in this 
place to consider the meaning of the names John and Zacharias ; 
for as though it were a matter of no small consequence, at the 
time of naming liim there was a providential interference." Then 
he proceeds to explain the three names : " John, L e. grace from 
God, was born of Zacharias, i. e. the remembrance of God, 
according to the oath of our God, which is denoted by the name 
Elisabeth :" the three names together teaching that divine grace 
is the result of God's covenant blessing man's pious endea- 

(8.) This example relates to persons : it may be well to give 
:another which relates to the names pf .places. Origen had noticed 
a various reading of the name Bethabara, where John was bap- 
tizing ; gome, copies write Bethania or Bethany, but Origen shews 
.that this is geographically impossible, and follows up his argu- 
ment by remarking 2, "The interpretation of the name [Beth- 
abara3 suits the baptism of one who was making ready a people 
prepared for the Lqrd ; for being translated it is, * The House of 
Preparation :' whereas Bethany means, ' The House of Obedience.' 
For where else did it become him to baptize, who was sent as^ 
messenger to prepare Christ's way before Him, tlian in tlje 
House of Preparation ? and what more suitable birthplace than 
the House of Obedience, for Mary, who chose the good part 
which could not be taken away from l>er ? for Martha, who was 
cumbered about waiting on jJksus ? and for their brother, who 
was called Friend by the Saviour? He therefore who wishes to 
understand the Holy Writings without omission must not despise 
minute attention to names." 

Here, it will ^e perceived, he assumes his rule so, entirely, as 

* In Joan. torn. ii.»27. t. iv. p. 86. ' In Joan. torn. vi.;24. t. iv. 140. C. 

116 Mystical Names of Places in St. Jerome. 

§ V. 8. to think it of some consequence in settling the preference among 
various readings of the name of a place. And so jiist after', 
among other reasons for reading Gergesa instead of Gerasa or 
Gadara, as the scene of the miracle of the evil spirits and the 
herd of swine: "The interpretation," he says, " of Gergesa is, 
' the abode of those who did cast out ;' perhaps named by a pro- 
phetical instinct, from the way in which the Saviour was treated 
by those who besought Him to depart out of their coasts." 

The like interpretations abound in St. Jerome, an author 
little likely to be biassed in their favour by the example of 
Origen, but qualified for them as Origen was, by his knowledge 
of the Hebrew, the want of which is probably the reason of 
their occurring less frequently, if ever, in Ambrose and Augus- 
tin. One might specify in particular the elegant way in which 
he has introduced more than one of them in the letter to 
Eustochium, which contains the itinerary of her mother Paula. 
He represents Paula addressing Bethlehem as follows * : '• Hail, 
Bethlehem, the House of Bread, wherein was born that Bread 
which Cometh down from heaven. Hail, Ephrata, region most 
abundant, and fruitful, the fertility whereof is God Himself." 
*'Not^ far from thence she went down to the tower of Ader, 
i. e. the flock ; near which Jacob fed his flock, and the shep- 
herds watching by night were counted worthy to hear, ' Glory 
to God in the highest.' Presently after, quickening her pace, 
she began to travel along the old way which leads to Gaza, i. e. 
to the power or riches of God ; when she thought of the Ethio- 
pian eunuch." Again, on the passage of Jeremiah, " Behold *, 
I will send fishers and hunters, who shall hunt you out of every 
hill and mountain," he writes, *' These are they whom the Lord 
sends out to fishing, and from fishers in the sea causes them to 
become fishers of men. Whence also the village of Peter and 
Andrew comes to be called by this name : for Bethsaida in our 
tongue is interpreted the House of Hunters." 

1 P. 141. B. » Ep. 108. §10; t. i. 698. C. 

» Ibid. 699. D ; 700. A. 

* Coram, in Ezech. lib. ix. c. 28 ; t. v. pars i. p. 339. D. 

Mysticism sometimes alleged in the Ads and Epistles. 117 

It will have been observed, that some of these instances of § » 9. 
allegorical names are taken not from our Lord's own history, but 
from that of St. John the Baptist ; and it is certain that the 
Fathers generally consider all that happened to him, at least 
before our Lokd's manifestation, as capable of and requiring 
an allegorical exposition : e. g. " the silence of Zacharias had a 
symbolical meaning," says Clement \ "awaiting that offspring, 
which should be the forerunner of Christ ; that the light of 
the truth, the word of the prophetic riddles, might become a 
gospel, or voice of good tidings, and so free itself of the mystical 

(9.) But when we corne to the times after our Lord's 
Ascension, it may appear that we no longer find the same 
frequency, the same unhesitating freedom, of mystical ex- 
position. Neither the Acts of the Apostles, nor the his- 
torical notices in the Epistles, are treated by them with the 
same constant allusions to mystical meanings, supposed to be 
undoubtedly contained in them. Instances of the kind are cer- 
tainly not wanting ; as where St. Augustin, on the conversion of 
St. Paul, reasons on the name Ananias, which he supposes to 
mean a sheep * ; and where Orig6n descants in the following way 
on St. Paul's recommendation of a collection for the poor saints 
in Jerusalem *. " Every one," says he, " who is spiritual, i. e. 
who serves God in the Spirit, and lives not according to the 
flesh, but according to the Spirit, he dwells in Jerusalem, ?'. e. 
the place of Peace, and abides in the Vision of Peace : and he 
is one of the poor saints, i. e. one of those blessed poor, to whom 
our Lord said, ' Blessed are the poor in spirit.' . . . Being such, he 
abides always in Jerusalem, possessing spiritual wealth. . . . On 
the other hand, it seems to me that those whom he calls Gentiles 
mean the less perfect souls, as standing in need of the instruc- 
tion of the more perfect: and who, if so be they are accounted 
worthy to become partakers with them in spiritual understanding 
and knowledge, ought themselves to minister unto them in carnal 

» S. Clem. Profrept. c. i. 10. » Serm. 279. 2. t. v. 788. E. 

* In Epitt. ad Rom. lib. x. 14 ; t. iv. p. 679. D. 

1 1 8 Mysticism rare in the Acts and Epistles. 

§ V. 9. things : and so, when their spirit begins to be imbued with some- 
thing of loftier contemplation, the flesh also, taking on itself the 
reins of continence and of chastity, ought to minister to the 
spiritual precepts." 

And even Chrysostom, who in general is very jealous of pro- 
ducing allegorical meanings, has an intimation that he does not 
consider them as out of place in this part of Scripture history. 
For, speaking of the name Dorcas, as repeated in the verse, 
•' They showed the garments which Dorcas had nnade for them," 
he remarks ', " Not without significance is her name added in this 
place, but with a view of giving us to understand that she an- 
swered to her name, watchful and alert as the animal which it 
signifies, (he antelope. For no less than a special providence 
goes to the assigning of many names, as I have often remarked 
to you." 

In spite, however, of scattered instances of this kind, it will 
perhaps hold, as a general observation, that mystical exposition 
is the exception, and not the rule, of the ancient commentators 
on the Acts and Epistles ; whereas through all former parts of 
the sacred history, it undoubtedly constituted the rule and not 
the excejition. If this be really so, it is remarkable in several 
ways : and one thought which it obviously suggests is, that 
it proves the Mysticism of the ancients, right or wrong, not 
to have been practised at random, not to have been merely an 
unthinking accommodation to the taste of the age, the school, or 
the individual. In such case, it will be hard to assign a reason 
why it should not have been applied to the fortunes of Christ's 
people after His ascension, as largely as before His coming, or 
as to the events of His own life. Were the whole a matter of 
mere ingenuity, it will not surely be pretended, that the character 
and adventures of St. Paul (for instance) might not be as dex- 
terously turned into allegory, whether of the prophetic or moral 
kind, as those of David or St. John the Baptist. The abstinence 
of the ancient writers in this respect indicates their proceeding on 
some definite rule or principle, whether we can succeed in ascer- 
taining the 1-ule or no. 

» In Act. Apost. Horn. 21, t. iv. p. 732. 1. 33. 

Double Ground of New Testament Mysticism. 119 

(10.) The several heads of New Testament Mysticism having § v. 10, 11. 
thus been briefly noticed and exemplified, and appearing to be, 
jirsl, the affixing spiritual import to the detail of parables, and to 
other imagery adopted by oub Lobd in bis discourses ; secondly^ 
the application of the like process to the circumstances of His 
history while on earih ; thirdly, to the names of persons Jind 
places any how connected with that history ; fourthly, and much 
more scantily, to the records of His Church after His departure ; 
we are in a condition to say something of the principles on which 
the whole depended, and the authorities by which, when chal- 
lenged, they were accustomed to vindicate it : and in the course of 
the discussion it will perhaps sufficiently appear, what weight is 
due to the difficulty mentioned in the outset, viz. that allegorizing 
the New Testament at all is inconsistent with the idea of its 
being, eminently, ij a\i]diia, the final dispensation — the substance 
and not the shadow. 

It may seem, then, that the mode of interpretation we are 
considering arose chiefly from the deep sense which those who 
used it entertained of two great truths, — fundamental truths — of 
the Gospel : the Divinity of our Lord, and the Communion of 

(11.) First, did we really lay it to heart, as we read verse after 
verse of the Gospels — did we in earnest put our minds to the 
thought, — that this Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary, is indeed 
the Most High God, Creator and Possessor of Heaven and Earth, 
and of all things visible and invisible ; did we realize our conviction 
of this truth in connexion with each and all of His actions and 
discourses, and of the scenes and circumstances in which we find 
Him engaged; we should of course feel on all these subjects, 
that which considerate persons feel in regard of all God's words 
and \\ orks ; viz. that the least of them is far too deep for us ; the 
most trivial of His commandments is exceeding broad ; the 
slightest, to our conception, of His acts must have eternal and 
infinite associations and consequences. The words, then, and 
doings of our Blessed Saviour, being as they are the words and 
doings of God, it cannot be but they must mean far more than 
meets the ear, or the eye : they cannot but be full charged with 

120 Mystical meaning of Things associated 

§ V. 12, heavenly and mysterious meaning, whether we are as yet compe- 
tent to discern some part of that meaning or no ; and to look at 
them in that light maybe called Mysticism : but is it any more than 
the natural and necessary result o? considerate faith in His divine 
nature? Or can it be doubted, that so far as the Mysticism of 
the old interpreters is traceable to this conviction, so far it not 
only admits of justification, but the disuse of it is a fearful symp- 
tom of irreverent forgetfulness at least of that vital doctrine ? 

On grounds like these, we may perhaps be excused in think- 
ing, whatever we may judge of the particular examples, that 
the Fathers could not be wrong in the general principle, which 
guided their comments in such instances as shall now be 

(12.) Knowing our Lord to be the Governor and Overruler of 
all things, even the least, by His good providence, knowing from 
His own lips that not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him : 
they could not be wrong in noting those circumstances and ac- 
companiments of His conduct, which in ordinary human lan- 
guage would be called accidental, as being in fact divinely 
ordered: worthy, from their nearness to Him, of being contem- 
plated with peculiar awe, as forming part of the clouds and 
darkness that He gathers round about Him : which if we can at 
all penetrate by the help of other revelations, it is well; if not, 
at least we may adore in silence. 

For example ; according to men's usual way of talking, it would 
be called an accidental circumstHnce, that there were Jive loaves, 
not more nor less, in the store of our Lord and His disciples, 
wherewith to provide the miraculous feast. But the ancient in- 
terpreters treat it as designed and providential, in this surely 
not erring : and their conjecture is, that it represents the sacri- 
fice of the whole world of sense, and especially of the Old Dis- 
pensation, which being outward and visible, might be called the 
dispensation of the senses, to the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, to be a pledge and mean of communion with Him 
according to the terms of the new or evangelical law. This idea 
they arrive at by considering the number five, the number of the 
senses, as the mystical exponent of the visible and sensible uni- 

with our Lord : The Five Loaves. 121 

verse : ra atV.&rjrn, as distinguished from to. yoTjra. Origen lays § v. U 
down the rule in express terms. " The number Five frequently, 
nay almost always, is taken for the five senses." 

Accordingly St. Clement \ speaking of the Tabernacle door, 
which was hung on Jive pillars, says it was accounted by some a 
token of the separation between the intellectual and sensible 
worlds ; and he adds, '* Thus, by a process full fraught with 
mysterious meaning, Five loaves are broken and multiplied by 
the Saviour, to the crowd of ordinary hearers ; for many one 
there be who regard the things of sense as if there were really 
nothing beside them." 

Origen more plainly ' : " By the five loaves they perhaps 
might signify the outward and literal words of the Holy Scrip- 
ture, literal and sensible, and therefore represented by the num- 
ber of the five senses." Ambrose again *, " It may seem that 
those five thousand, as though made up of the mere bodily 
senses, which are five, received from Christ nourishment as yet 
little more than bodily." And Augustin * : "To pass over this 
subject rapidly ; the five loaves are understood to be the five 
books of Moses, with reason not represented as of wheat, but 
of barley, because they belong to the Old Testament. And 
barley, as you know, is so formed, that you come with difficulty 
to the nourishing part of it, wrapped up as it is in a covering of 
chaff, and that chaff stiff and cleaving, so as not to be stripped 
off without some trouble. Such is the letter of the Old Testa- 
ment, clothed with the wrappings of carnal sacraments, or 
tokens ; but if you once Come to its marrow, it nourishes and 
satisfies. If we ask, who was the lad that bare the loaves, per- 
haps it was the people of Israel ; with no more than childish 
thought, bearing them only, not tasting them." And elsewhere, 
expressing himself in such a way as to connect his view obviously 
with that of St. Clement * : " The five barley loaves, wherewith 
the LoKD fed the multitudes in the mountain, signify the old 
Law ; either because it is given to persons not yet spiritual, but 

• Strom. V. § 33. ' In Matth. torn. xi. 2; t. iii, 477. B. 
» In Luc. lib. vi. 80. * In Joan. tr. 24-6. 

• De DiT. Qusest. 61 ; torn. vi. 24. F. 

122 Mystical Meaning of our Lord's Journeys : 

13. still carnal, i. e. devoted to the five bodily senses ; or because 
the Law was given by Moses, and the books written by Moses 
are five." 

It should still be recollected, that neither in this nor in other 
like instances is the tone of the Fathers at all dogmatical. They 
are positive only in one point, that there is a spiritual meaning, 
could we but find it ^ ; but of their own special exposition they 
commonly speak as doubtfully as Origen on this very place, 
whose language is'', " Thus far have I been able to reach in con- 
jecturing the sense of the five loaves and the two fishes. But 
in all likelihood those who are better able to store themselves 
with [the spiritual food meant by] those symbols will be able to 
give a fuller account of these things." 

It may be added, perhaps, in support of the exposition which 
he thus modestly suggests, that it suits well with the nature of the 
miracle, considered as an intimation of the future Eucharistical 
sacrifice : in which light the subsequent discourse of our Lord 
undoubtedly teaches us to consider it. For the offering of 
bread and wine, to be received back again as the Lord's Body 
and Blood, is in effect, as far as in each of us lies, the sacrifice 
of all the things of sense, of our whole earthly being, to be made 
heavenly by participation of Jesus Christ. 

(13.) It is clear, again, referring to some examples given above, 
that the names of the several places which our Lord chose wherein 
to utter His discourses and work His miracles, will come under 
the head which we are now considering — that of circumstances 
which in ordinary history might be called insignificant, but in 
this can hardly be less than providential. Our Lorp's moving 
from place to place, among the towns, mountains, and rivers of 
Israel, was the moving of the God and King of Israel, among 
the places which He Himself had marked out, from all ages, to 
be the scene of His mighty words and works, when He should 
literally visit His people. 

So also, applying the same remark to His discourses, the 

* Nihil vacuum, neque sine signo apud Deuiti. Iren. iv. 21 ; ed. Bened. It 
seems to have been a sort of Christian Proverb. 
' Orig. ubi supra. 

nnd of the Imagery of His Parables. 123 

i imagery which He used, His references to natural objects, are to § v. 14. 
be looked at with other and far higher feelings tlian those of nmere 
wonder and delight, such as the same words would cause, could 

( we imagine them proceeding from human lips. His mention 
(e. g.) of the birds of the air, tlie lilies, tlie vine and its 
l)ranches, the wheat and tares, and whatever else occurs of the 
like kind, are so many instances of the Creator applying to 
moral and spiritual uses His own outward and visible works ; 
whicli works He had created, knowing in His Omniscience that 
He should so apply them, and therefore (among their other final 
causes) with the very purpose of doing so. And it is but car- 
rying the same observation one step further, to say, that His not 
unfrequent allusions to domestic processes also, and the simpler 
modes of trade, and husbandry work, are in like manner allu- 
sions to things which Himself had prepared by His providence 
no doubt with a view to such application. - 

The great use to be made of this will be seen by and by : at 
present it may serve to mitigate the disapproving wonder with 
which some readers are apt to receive what may appear to them 
the frigid and overstrained comments of the Fathers on the 
lignrative language of our Lord, and the details of His 

(14.) For example, St. Clement ' applies the Parable of Leaven 
to illustrate the reserve which all know to have been one great 
feature of the teaching of the early Church. " By it," he 
says, " the Lord indicates the method of concealment." Then, 
(pioting the parable, he subjoins, " Either it is the preserva- 
tion of the soul which our Lord here describes, — of the soul, 
made up as it is of three parts, [memory, understanding, and 
will] and preserved in the way of obedience by the spiritual 
power hidden in it, according to the faith ; or else, [He speaks 
thus] because of the Power of the Word, given unto us, compressed 
in a scanty space, but of great might, attracts to Itself secretly and 
invisibly the whole of him who receives It and lays It up within 
himself, and gathers the whole complex being of that man by 

» Strom. V. 81. 

124 Mystical Meaning of our Lord's Conduct : 

V. 15. degrees into perfect unity." St. Aiigustin^, and St. Ambrose', 
in effect give the same exposition ; all agreeing to annex a certain 
mystical force to the three measures ; to the rvoman ' whom they 
take to be the Church, or Wisdom ; to the hiding of the leaven : 
and so in other parables ; those things which modern critics re- 
gard as the mere scenery or dress of the narrative, they fear to 
dispose of so easily, considering that He is speaking of them, 
who caused them to be what they are, with all their relations, 
similitudes and association. 

(15.) But if the Fathers considered as providential and mys- 
tical the mere ornaments of our Lord's discourses, and the accom- 
paniments of His proceedings on earth, much more would they 
regard in the same view the substance of His conduct, His own 
voluntary doings. It would nevfer come into their mind to think 
they knew the whole meaning and bearings of it, any more than 
to imagine, as they looked upwards at night, that they saw through 
the whole depth of the sky, because, gazing more intently than 
others, more and more stars had become visible to them. They 
seem to have contemplated the whole subject with that feeling of 
infinity, which dictated St. John's concluding verse, " If the 
things which Jesus did should be written every one, I suppose 
that even the world itself could not be able to contain the books 
which should be written." Akin to which is the saying of 
Origen ', " That the Gospel of St. John can hardly be understood 
but by one who should be like the writer of it, lying on the 
bosom of our Lord, and declared to be the Son of Mary, i. e. 
as it were another Jesus by communion with the true Jesus." 

According to the depth of significance here attributed to the 
least of our Lord's doings, we are to look at the minute de- 
tails of His demeanour towards different persons. His modes of 
dealing with them for their good, as so many exemplifications, — 
so many visible types, — of His invisible dealings and dispensa- 
tions towards the same class of persons always. If even " wise 
men and scribes," parents, say, or teachers or masters, very often 
use significant actions, expressing things far beyond any dream, 

* QuKst. Evang. i. 12 ; Serm. cxi. t. v. 392. * In Luc. vii. 187, &c. 

' In Joan. i. 6. 

IVashing the Disciples' Feet: the Paschal Upper Room. 125 

that those who witness them can possibly have of their meaning ; § v. 16. 
shall it seem strange to be told, that we must regard all the 
actions of Him, who is infinite wisdom and goodness, as so many 
deep economies, answering, in all probability, purposes, of which 
we can no more judge, than a child in arms can judge of the mean- 
ing of the holy services, which he may chance at any time to 
see performed in a Church ? 

(16.) But to produce first a few instances, in which it seemed to 
the Fathers that we might in some measure interpret our Lord's 
significant actions : — Origen ' has gone through great part of the 
discourse with the woman of Samaria, as a specimen of the way 
in which it pleases Him to deal with those who are not unbelievers 
but heretics : Irenseus expounds the washing the Disciples' feet 
to be a token of Christ communicating an interest in His Passion 
to all the Saints which had gone before, the whole Jewish and 
patriarchal Church. Thus he speaks*: "In the last times, when 
came the fulness of the time of liberty, the Word Himself by Him- 
self cleansed away the filth of the daughter of Sion, washing with 
His own hands the feet of His Disciples. For this [in which we 
now are] is the end [or last stage] of the human race entering 
on its inheritance, even God : that as in the beginning we were all 
brought into slavery by the debt of death [which we incurred], 
so in the end, by Him who is the Last, all who from the begin- 
ning had been Disciples, being cleansed and washed from the 
things of death, might enter into the life of God. For He who 
washed the feet of His Disciples, sanctified the whole body, and 
brought it into a state of pureness. Which is the reason also why 
He ministered food to them as they reclined, signifying those 
who were reclining in the earth, to whom He came to minister 

Origen, and after him Ambrose', assign a parabolical drift to 
the directions given by our Lord about preparing the Passover. 
" * No one, keeping the Passover according to the will of Jesus, is 
below the upper room ; but whosoever feasts with Him, is on high, 
in a large upper room, in an upper room swept, in an upper 

» In Joan. xiii. t. iv. 212, &c. » iv. 39. 

» In S. Luc. X. 47. * In Jerem. Horn, xviii. 13. t. iii. 266. C. 

126 Tno Senses of The Word, a Source of Mysticism. 

§ V. 17. room garnished and prepared: and if tliou go up with Him to 
celebrate the Passover, He gives to thee no less a gift than the 
Bread of Blessing, His own Body, and vouchsafes to thee His 
own Blood. Wherefore I beseech you, go up on high, lift up 
your eyes on high. And to me too, when I am engaged in 
teaching the Divine word, the Scripture says, * Go up to the 
high mountain, thou who tellest good tidings to Sion.' " And St. 
Ambrose ' takes occasion from the command about the pitcher of 
water, to descant in honour of holy Baptism, carried away, as the 
Fathers used to be on that subject, perhaps above all others. 

(17.) It may be worth considering, whether the view in illus- 
tration of which these last examples have been offered, does not 
tend in some sort to explain and justify the practice which 1 have 
frequently mentioned, as not unusual with Origen and Clement, 
and with others who followed them, of adding to the prophetical 
■ or evangelical exposition of historical passages, what may be 
-called a moral exposition also: of which an example has already 
been adduced from Origen, speaking of our Lord's entry into 
Jerusalem ; and the following may serve in further illustration of 
it»: ••The Lord in the Gospel affirms, concerning that woman 
who poured on His head the box of precious ointment, • She hath 
wrought a good work on Me ;' intimating that he who pours oint- 
ment on the Word of God, i. e. who joins actual obedience with 
that Word, that man worketh a good work. For the Word 
•adorned with obedience and right actions is rendered, as it were, 
'fragrant, filled with all sweetness of precious ointments." Here 
would seem at first sight a confusion between the two senses 
of •• THE Word," standing sometimes for the Scriptures, some- 
times for the Person of our Lord. But the difficulty will per- 
haps vanish, on considering that the word written or spoken was 
regarded by Origen as one only among many forms, in which the 
•personal Word vouchsafes to communicate Himself to His ser- 
vants. The things then which befel our Lord •• visibly and 
personally" might well be taken as symbolical of the mode, in 
which His inward and visible jpresence acts on, and is received 
by, the hearts of His servants; as Origen himself gives us to 
> In Luc. lib. ix. 48. ' In Rom. ii. 5. t. iv, 480. B. 

The Economy, perhaps regarding Angels, a sourceof Mysticism. 127 

understand, explaining the declaration of St. John the Baptist ', § v. 18. 
" There standeth one among you whom ye know not," of " the 
presence of our Lord's most high Nature in all reasonable souls, 
reaching through the whole world." Comments, accordingly, 
in the Alexandrian and other Fathers, which at first sight might 
appear like mere metaphysical disquisitions, about the supremacy 
and operations of reason, may be understood of Christ, and the 
operations of His grace ; only recollecting that the ancients in 
their piety ascribed all sound reason to the Word, or Wisdom, of 
the Father, enlightening the soul. 

(18.) The Divinity then of our Lord, and His relation to man- 
kind, would cause us to feel sure that all His words and doings 
must be so far mystical, as that they mean more, infinitely more, 
than meets the eye and ear of the mere human observer. But His 
Incarnation and Economy, of which His words and actions are part, 
may have had other objects, relative to other races and other states 
of being. Who knows but any given work or discourse of His 
may have reference to some of these, and we may have, conse- 
quently, to wait for its full explanation until (if ever) our eyes be 
opened to behold them in another world ? Certainly there are 
obscure hints in Scripture, there is a partial, a very partial, dis- 
closure, of some change in heaven as well as on earth, to be 
wrought by the Incarnation of the Son of God. " The princi- 
palities and powers in heavenly places," it is intimated, have 
some deep though undefined interest in that unspeakable Work 
of God, which is our sanctification and salvation. Such hints 
unquestionably the New Testament contains : and it was the part 
of watchful piety, such as that of the Fathers, to notice and store 
them up : and what more natural, than that they should some- 
times remember them, when engaged in the obscurer portions of 
the Gospel history, and should say within themselves. What if such 
and such a saying of our Lord, such and tuch a circumstance of 
His beliaviour, evidently too profound for us, should belong to 
Him as the Lord of Angels rather than of men, should allude to 
His government of heaven rather than of earth ? 

By this train of though^, they, would evidently open to them- 
» In Joan. t. ii. 29. torn. iv. 89. D. 

128 Mystical Allusions to Angels in the Gospels. 

§ V. 19. selves a new source of (what is called) Mysticism : the principle 
of which can hardly be denied, however unsoundly or pre- 
sumptuously the details may have been managed. One or two 
examples shall be produced from Origen, the writer on whose 
mind these thoughts appear to have made most impression. 

He ' applies the prophetic saying of our Lord, " Other sheep I 
have, which are not of this fold," in part to the ministering angels, 
who "look forward," he says, *' with the rest of the Creation, to the 
revelation of the Sons of God, for whom they are commissioned 
to minister (being so far," as he expounds it, '* * made subject unto 
vanity ') that they with the objects of their ministration may 
receive the inheritance of salvation, that of earthly and heavenly 
things there may be one fold and one shepherd." It may be 
remarked, by the way, that this comment on the place in the 
Romans, right or wrong, is not Origen's own. It occurs, as 
we have seen, in Clement's exposition of tiie parable of the 
good Samaritan : "* Christ has commanded the authorities and 
powers to minister to us for a great reward, viz. that themselves 
may be delivered from the bondage of corruption." Again, 
Origen^ considers the case of the fallen Angels to be very pro- 
bably part of our Lord's meaning, in that very awful Proverb, 
" There are first which shall be last, and there are last which 
shall be first." And every where he is full of the presence of 
the elect Angels, and delights in contemplating our invisible 
communion with them ; not always perhaps judiciously, yet surely 
on the whole more wisely and scripturaliy, than they who banish 
the doctrine out of their thoughts, as though it were either a 
mere figure of speech, or an economy long laid aside, and to us 
mere matter of history. 

(19.) So much for that portion of the New Testament Mys- 
ticism, which seems to arise from the constant remembrance of the 
Omniscience of Jesus Christ, and His Supreme Dominion over 
things visible and invisible. Another large class of similar 
instances will be found, derived from another fundamental truth, 
viz. the Communion of Saints. By the Communion of Saints, 

» In Ep. ad Rom. lib. vii. 4. t. iv. 597, 598. 

' De Div. Servand. 29. ' In Matt. xv. 27. t iii. 692. 

The Communion of Saints, a great Source of Mysticism. 129 

is here meant the real, but mysterious and supernatural union of § v. 20. 
Jescs Christ with His Body the Church, and with every mem- 
ber of that Body : by virtue of which, the actions and sufferings 
of the Head may be predicated of the Body, and conversely those 
of the Body, of tlie Head : Israel may stand for Christ, and 
Christ for Israel : tlie one, e. g. where Moses is said to have 
" esteemed the reproach of Christ," i. e. of God's Church and 
people, which is in Christ's account one with Him, " more than 
the treasures of Egypt :" the other, where Hosea, combining in 
one expression the past and the future, says, " When Israel was 
a child, then I loved hira, and called My Son out of Egypt." 

Again, David is a type of our Lord, and through Him of the 
Church which is His Body, and through that again of each indi- 
vidual Christian as being a member of that Body : and therefore 
the Psalms generally are adopted by the whole Church in her 
assemblies, and by separate believers in their closets, with equal 
propriety, as the language of their devotions : they are an inspired 
Liturgy, provided for all ages and all lands. 

As, therefore, the Divinity of our Lord even forces a considerate 
person to regard His demeanour towards those who came near 
Him in the body, as indicative of His ways of grace and trial 
towards us, with whom He is invisibly present : so the unity 
between Him and His Ciiurch would lead us to inquire, from 
time to time, whether things which we find happening to Him 
may not be prophetic tokens of the future fortunes of the Church ; 
as well as His conduct a lesson to her, how to bear herself in her 
conflicts with the world. 

(20.) But here the nature of the case would enforce an important 
distinction between the allegory of the Old Testament and that 
of the New ; i. e. so far as both are prophetic. In the Old Tes- 
tament the leading idea is, that the Cliurch, whether diffusive, or 
embodied in her anointed members, king, priest, or prophet, is 
every where the type of Christ; in the New, that Christ con- 
versely is the type of the Church. " They from Sheba shall 
come, they shall bring gold and incense :" — doubtless the immedi- 
ate aspect of this prophecy is towards the wise men's offering at 
Bethlehem ; but that offering was itself prophetical of the kings 

VOL. VI. — 89. X 

1 so Christ and the Church stand for tack other : 

§ V. 20. of the earth coming in, and laying their glories at the feet of the 
Church, as the representative of Christ on earth. Again : " He 
shall bruise them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces 
like a potter's vessel" — is transferred in the Acts from David to 
Christ, and in the Revelation from Christ to the Church ; — our 
Lord being in this sense also both Alpha and Omega, the end of 
the ancient types and the beginning of a new series. In Him 
all that happened before was, as it were, brought to a point ; and 
all again that should come after, was but so many developments 
of what He said, did, and suffered among us. 

But it can scarce be necessary to dwell much on this part of the 
subject, since Christians in general appear to feel that each greater 
event of our Lord's abode on earth, His Passion, for example, 
in all its circumstances, was prophetic of the treatment which the 
Church, His Body, might expect, and at the same time symboli- 
cal of the inward process, whereby each one of His members 
should be trained and purified. The very expression, " taking 
up the Cross," seems to imply as much as this. 

But if so, surely there is something to be said for tiie introduc- 
tion of the same idea in other passages also of our Saviour's 
life, and in explanation of other sayings of His. For example, 
there is a very ancient gloss on the saying, " Foxes have holes, and 
birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to 
lay His head." " In this," says Clement of Alexandria \ " I sup- 
pose there is an allusive meaning ; viz. that with him only who 
believes, and is perfectly separated from all those who in Scrip- 
ture are described as wild beasts, does a resting place use to be 
found for the Head of all beings, the gracious and gentle Word ;" 
as if our Lord's literal want of a home, when He was here in the 
body, betokened the scarcity, which should ever be found on 
earth, of souls apt to receive and lodge Him worthily. Foxes 
would always find their dens, and birds of the air their nests : 
crafty and soaring thoughts would always find hearts enough 
ready to entertain them : not so the frank and open, the meek 
and lowly, Spirit of Christ. 

> Strom, i. 23. 

Scripture justifies the Fathers in (his. 1 31 

Such is St. Augustin's explanation * (amongst others); and it § v. 21. 
appears to be so far warranted, as that it is only an additional 
application of the same principle, whicli teaches us, with St. 
Cyprian^, to consider Christ's coat without seam as a token of 
the unity of His Church, which her enemies, doing their worst, 
should be unable to rend: or, with Clement', to look on His 
baptism as a token and type of ours. " The Lord," he affirms, 
" is consecrated by the bath alone, and sanctified by the descent 
of the Holy Ghost. So it is ; and the same thing happens in 
us also, of whom the Lord is the type : by baptism we are 
enlightened, by enlightening we are adopted, by adoption we are 
consecrated [or perfected], by consecration [or perfecting] we are 
immortalized." St. Paul's language to the Romans and Colos- 
sians, implying Christ's death and resurrection to be, sacramen- 
tally and virtually, th-it of each baptized person, is too well known 
to be more than just alluded to. And there is imagery in the 
Revelation, in the vision of the Two Witnesses, which may justify 
us in surmising that the same awful events may in some sense 
find their counterpart in the history of the Church on earth. 

Whoever will consider and follow out these and similar hints, 
will see reason, perhaps, to excuse many things, which a hasty 
reader of the Fathers would call over-boid and fanciful : he will 
understand how Origen might affirm*, that there are in fact as 
many different manifestations of the Word, as many different 
Christs, as there are believers ; and again, that those who rest 
content with the mere outward meaning of the Gospel history, 
not recollecting as they go on, that in this same Jesus they live, 
and move, and have their spiritual being — that He is one with 
them, and they with Him — they are in the same kind of error as 
the Judaizers, who could not find Him in the Old Testament. 

(21.) So far then as the mystical interpretation of the Gospels 
depends on the Communion of Saints, it would appear to be 
amply authorized by the Scripture itself: neither need we be long 
to seek for similar authority in behalf of that branch of it, which 

• Queest. in Matth, v. t. iii. pars 2, p. 201. C. ; in Ps. 90. Serm. 2. § 7, t. v. 
733. E. 2 De Unit. Eccl. t. i. 110. ed. Fell. 

» Pedag. i. 26. « In Joan. ri. 3, t. iv. 108. C. 

K 2 

132 Scriptural Indications of Allegory in the Gospels: 

§ V. 22. lias been already exemplified : that, namely, which results from 
the constant endeavour to realize, as we read, our Lord's high 
and transcendent Nature. As to His Parables, it is certain 
that in those which He has condescended to explain, in that of 
the Tares for example, every circumstance almost is made to 
tell ; so far from the attention being limited, as many modern 
interpreters would limit it, to the general result and moral only. 
Many of His actions are ascertained to be symbolical, in the way 
of prophecy, or moral, or both : some by their correspondence with 
direct Parables ; as the cursing of the fig-tree, which agrees re- 
markably with the Parable of the barren fig-tree ; the multiplying 
the loaves and fishes, illustrated by the subsequent discourse of 
the Bread from Heaven ; and the miraculous draught of fishes, 
explained by the Parable of the net. Other actions, or circum- 
stances of actions, have their figurative nature indicated by the use 
of some symbol, which God's providence has made appropriate, 
{oikCiov, as the rhetoricians call it,) to some particular subject ; as 
the change of water into wine, where the appropriation was made 
known afterwards by the institution of the Holy Eucharist. In 
other cases, as the clioice of the ass and colt for the entry into 
Jerusalem, above considered, the terms of ancient Prophecy were 
a key to the mystery of the action. As to the miracles of our 
Lord's mercy, healing, cleansing, enlightening, reviving, — there 
were sufficient hints given by Himself, in the conversations which 
followed upon some of them, how He would have them inter- 
preted : as when He remarked on the case of the man who had 
been blind from his birth, " For judgment I am come into this 
world, that they which see not might see, and that they which 
see might be made blind :" and in the Parable of the relapsed 

(22.) The above considerations may perhaps put us in a condi- 
tion to account in some measure for the comparative absence of 
Mysticism in the comments of Antiquity on the Acts and Epistles. 
Those, with whose words and actions those latter Christian Scrip- 
tures are conversant, were actually in the Kingdom of Heaven : 
they were arrived at that final condition, — final as regards this 
world, — to which all former types and shadows had pointed, and in 

IV/iy it is rarer in the Acts and Epistles. 133 

which, visibly or invisibly, they were now to be realized. They § '• 23. 
were not themselves, as far as we know, types and shadows of 
any thing further. Their condition indeed was full of mystery, of 
high, spiritual, invisible relations and associations : and so is our 
own condition, for theirs and ours are in substance one. But 
scantily and seldom, if at all, is any portion of the veil with- 
drawn, so as to justify the same kind of comment on the hidden 
bearings of the Apostles' history, or of that of any subsequent 
generation of believers, which God Himself had taught us to 
venture on, in all preceding Scriptures. With the exception of 
those sacramental actions, which being performed according to 
His command, are to be regarded as purely and indeed His 
actions, there are now no visible doings of Christ on earth : 
none, that is, visibly distinct from the doings of men ; none there- 
fore to which we are warranted in specially affixing a mystical cha- 
racter, as being both the doings of God, and of Him who is one 
with the Church and with each of us. " Christ is the end of the 
Law for righteousness to every man that believeth :" that verse 
being once for all realized, the vision and prophecy is of course 
sealed up ; for there can be nothing beyond the end. 

(23.) On the whole, there seems no want of scriptural authority 
for the allegory as applied by the Fathers to the New Testament, 
considered both in what it includes, and in what it omits. Most 
modern interpreters even, and almost all devotional writers, 
recognize it in principle, some perhaps more or less uncon- 
sciously ; but the great difference between them and the Ancients 
^eems to lie rather in this ; that the Ancients fear not to carry it 
out, in every part of the Gospels, and as far as it will g > in 
every case ; whereas we, in modern times, each draw his own 
arbitrary line, according to our own taste, or our notions of what 
is useful or convincing, or out of deference to the judgments we 
expect from others. 

And sorne perhaps mr:y say, " After all, where is the great 
harm of this ? the other may certainly be more legitimate and 
consistent in reasoning ; but practically, is it not safer, is it not 
even more religious and reverent, to abide by the letter, instead 
of perplexing yourself with expositions of which you cannot be 
quite sure ?" This, perhaps, is a thought not unlikely to be enter- 

134 Danger of rejecting the Mystical Sense ; 

§ V. 24. tained by many minds. But let us be aware which way it leads : — 
to what, in reality, it amounts. Discarding high associations 
from our interpretations of Scripture, under the notion that a 
plain man may do well enough without them, appears rather 
like discarding high doctrines from our creed, as if they were only 
fit for professed theologians. It may be, that the one does not 
always lead to the other, but they may be symptomatic of the 
sannie unhealthy frame of thought : and is it not generally found, 
in fact, that the two more or less accompany each other, both in 
schools of divinity and in the fluctuation of individual minds? 
Whitby's intense scorn of the ancient allegories was a step to 
the Arianism in which he finally acquiesced : and we know too 
well the region of doctrine towards which the merely critical and 
historical discussions of the last century were continually gravi- 
tating. Surely these are things worth the consideration of those, 
who shrink not only from promulgating, but even from fairly 
examining, the old principles of Biblical exposition, for fear of 
giving too much play to the imagination, or some such kind of 
irreverence. Are they not unconsciously behaving like Ahaz, 
who, when God Himself offered him a sign, refused to ask, 
under the pretence or notion, that to do so would be tempting 
the Lord ? 

(24.) It is most true, there is a great danger in the mystical con- 
templation of the Scriptures, more especially of the Gospels, by 
how much the Word of Life is there brought nearer to us, to be 
not only heard of, but also to be seen with our eyes, to be looked 
upon, and handled with our hands. There is a great, an un- 
speakable danger, if our practice be not conformable. But this 
danger is not peculiar to the process of spiritual interpretation ; 
it belongs equally to all ways of communicating the secrets of 
the Kingdom of Heaven ; to the Creeds and Prayers of the 
Church ; to the Catechisms which all children learn. And the 
remedy for it is not, in this or any otlier instance, to hide our 
eyes indolently from the light, which we know shines round us, 
but to strengthen them gradually, that they may be able to bear 
it; and this can only be done by moral means; i. e. by repent- 
ance, devotion, and self-denial. As we train ourselves, so also, 
according to our means, should we endeavour to prepare others, 

. or of approaching it unworthily, 135 

for the right study of the Bible. He who looks no deeper than § v. 25. 
the letter, may simply recommend candour, and patient investi- 
gation, and freedom from sensual and other disturbing thoughts : 
but he who knows beforehand, that the Personal Word is every 
where in the written Word, couJd we but discern Him, will feel 
it nn awful tbing to open his Bible ; fasting, and prayer, and 
scrupulous self-denial, and all the ways by which the flesh is 
tamed to the Simrit, will seem to him no more than natural, when 
he is to sanctify himself, and draw near, with Moses, to the 
darkness where God is. And this so much the more, the more 
that darkness is mingled with evangelical light ; for so much the 
more he may hope to see of God ; and we know Who it is, that 
has inseparably connected seeing God with purity of heart. 

As therefore God's people are continually to be told, concern- 
ing the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucliarist, that it is infinitely 
dangerous to come near it unworthily, but they are not therefore 
to leave it out of their minds, but rather to think of it night and 
day, that they may prepare themselves, and come as God would 
have them : so is it with this mystical presence of Jesus Christ 
in every part of the Scriptures. We are not to shrink from the 
thought of it for fear of irreverence, but bearing it continually in 
mind, we are to train ourselves so, that we may have grace to 
discern it, according to our measure, in particulars. This train- 
ing is no matter of intellectual acuteness, industry, and memory : 
they will only mislead into some wrong kind of Mysticism, if sepa- 
rated from a single mind, and a heart full of reverence : but he that 
is willing indeed to do His will, he shall know Trept rf)^ hiZayriQ, 
" concerning the manner of teaching," as well as the substance, 
" whether it be of God." Common sense surely will add, that 
one necessary sign of this willing reverence of heart, will be our 
religiously walking by the clue which the ancient Church has 
given us, wherever we can keep satisfactory hold of it ; never 
daring to contradict the unanimous voice of the Fathers, still 
less to treat with scorn and mockery the serious opinion, though 
it be but of one among them. 

(25.) On the other hand, no ignorance, not even inability to read, 
disqualifies men from thus receiving our Lord in His Scriptures. 

186 Mystical Allusions adapted to simple Minds. 

§ V. 25. It does not hinder them from seeing God's liand in His natural 
Providence, in His care of their own and others' welfare: why 
should it make them incapable of perceiving His supernatural 
Providence, (if one may so call it) — the presence of His Christ, — 
in all those works of His, the record of which they hear from 
time to time in Church, or at home out of their Bibles? Such 
perception of our Lord's presence, through the veil of the letter, 
is in fact the religious improvement of the fondness for type 
and parable, natural to all, but often most developed in those 
who have least means of acquiring literal instruction. From 
whicii it would seem, that we need not fear to inure even poor 
unlearned persons, having the fear of God, and leading good 
lives, with the ancient mode of exposition. Humanly speaking, 
their habits of thought make them for the most part apter to 
receive it, than persons of greater learning and refinement. 

But whether to wise or simple, to learned or unlearned, the 
great and certain advantage of this method (over and above its 
positive truth) is this : that it tends so directly, in every part and 
parcel of the Scriptures, to keep up the conviction that God in 
Christ is there, ready to reveal Himself to us with a blessing, 
if we seek Him religiously and worthily. This conviction, con- 
tinually realized and acted on, will prove to be of unspeakable 
value, though we never were conscious of a single discovery, a 
single new interpretation, in the ordinary sense of that terra. 
Such faithful self-denying labour will be worth a double " hidden 
treasure" to us, bringing us secretly into closer Communion with 
Him, in whom are now hidden, one day to be revealed, " all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge." 

These remarks may suffice, on the manner of the Fathers as 
Mystical Interpreters of the Bible. We shall next have to con- 
sider them as Mystical Observers of natural and providential 
things, and of the visible world around us : a kindred subject, as 
a little inquiry will show. 

Ancient and Modern Notions on Physical Knowledge. 137 

§ vi. — Mysticism as applied to the Works of Nature, and gene- 
rally to the external World. 

(1.) Whatever judgment persons may be inclined to form of the § vi. 1. 
early Christian interpretations in themselves, it is clear and cer- 
tain matter of fact, and surely well worthy of remark, that on all 
the great divisions of iiuman knowledge the Fathers had, as a 
school, views of their own. Whether it was history of which they 
were speaking, or the arts of life, or morals public or private, 
their measures of things, and the tone they preserved, were widely 
different from all tliat had gone before them : hardly more so, 
however, (it is a startling but true confession,) than they differ 
from the principles and manner adopted in other ages, espe- 
cially perhaps in our own, by Cliristian writers on the same 

But of all branches of human knowledge there is none in 
which this difference is more strongly marked, than in what 
relates to the study of nature, and the laws and aspects of the 
external world. We know how very large a part of modern 
literature and education, nay, and of modern theology too, is 
occupied by instruction and research on physical subjects, and 
in what a tone of self-complacency men praise their times and 
one another, for the great and rapidly increasing proficiency of 
the two or three last generations in their knowledge and com- 
mand of the powers of nature. But when we turn to the first 
ages of Christian literature, the very first sentiment which strikes 
us is, the care taken every where to exclude views merely scientific 
and physical, — to prevent our acquiescing in that kind of know- 
ledge, as though in itself it were any great thing. Hear, e. g. the 
tone in which St. Augustin explains what attention is due from 
a Christian to that, which of all physical sciences we are taught 
sometimes to account the most elevating, — to astronomy. 

" The knowledge," he says \ " of the rising and setting, and 
other motions of the stars, though it bind men by no superstition, 

• De Doctr. Christ, ii. 46. 

138 St. Auguslin on the Value of Astronomy : 

vi. 2. yet is of little or rather no avail for the explanation of Holy 
Scripture, but is rather an impediment, by diverting attention 
unprofitably : and inasmuch as it is closely connected with the 
most deadly error of the chanters of silly predictions, it is better 
and more creditable to let it pass." Some might perhaps imagine 
that in this passage St. Augustin was ignorantly confounding 
astronomical with astrological science. But the next sentences 
contradict the suspicion. " It is true," he adds, " that besides 
the observation of existing phenomena, astronomical science con- 
tains in it something of the nature of history, inasmuch as from 
the present positions and motions of the heavenly bodies we may, 
according to certain rules, retrace their movements in times past. 
Again, it hath certain rules for judging of things future ; not 
in the way of mere conjecture and omen, but fixed and settled 
rules ; not such as to authorize our concluding aught from them 
concerning our own conduct and fortunes, which is the madness 
of those who calculate nativities — but facts appertaining to the 
heavenly bodies themselves. For as the computers of the lunar 
motions, observing how old the moon is to-day, are able to assign 
its age at any distance of years forward and backward, so con- 
cerning any heavenly body whatever, scientific reckoners are 
wont to give determinate answers." 

It was not then from inadequate conceptions of the true pro- 
vince and evidence of astronomy, that St. Augustin assigned to 
it so low a place in the pursuits of a Christian student ; but it 
was clearly from a perception that such knowledge was but very 
remotely connected with the proper duty and happiness of man- 
kind. And St. Augustin was no unlearned man, nor at all apt 
to set himself fanatically against the use of human knowledge in 
the interpretation of Divine Truth. 

(2.) But in truth he was here only expressing the constant 
sentiment of the Church, such as we find it laid down in the 
first and second ages, almost in the form and with the authority 
of an apostolical canon. " It is better," says Irenaeus ', " to know 
«othing at all, no, not so much as one single cause of any of the 

» ji. 4S. 

Si. Irenceus on abstruse Physical Questions. 189 

things which are made, but to believe in God, and to persevere § vi. 2. 
in love, than to be puffed up with that sort of knowledge, and 
fall from love, which gives life to man. It is better to seek 
nothing in the way of knowledge but Jesus Christ the Son of 
God, who was crucified for us, than to fall into impiety through 
subtle questions and minute verbal discussions. Suppose, e. g, 
that any one, more or less elated with efforts of this kind, should 
lake occasion from our Lord's saying, ' The very hairs of your 
head are all numbered,' to make curious inquiry, and search out 
both the number of hairs in each person's head, and the cause 
why one has so many, and another so many .... and so per- 
sons fancying they had discovered the right number, should 
endeavour to give it a meaning in reference to the teaching which 
they liad devised for their own sect : or again, suppose that any 
one, upon the saying in the Gospel, ' Are not two sparrows sold 
for a farthing, and not one of them can fall to the earth without 
the will of your Father,' should take upon him to enumerate 
the sparrows which are daily taken in this place and that, and in 
all places, and make out the reason why so many were caught 
yesterday, so many the day before, and again so many to-day ; 
and connect the said number of sparrows with his own argument: 
doth not such an one altogether deceive himself, and are not those 
who agree with him forced along with him into great impiety ? 
Men being always forward in such speculations, that they may 
obtain the credit of having made out each something more than 
his master. 

" Again, suppose a man should ask us, ' Doth not God know the 
whole number of ail things which have been and are being made ? 
Did not each of these numbers receive by His providence the 
amount which was suitable to it?' we of course should assent, 
and allow that nothing ever did or doth come into being without 
the knowledge of God ; that by His providence is assigned to 
each of them its proper kind, place, number and quantity ; that 
nothing at all ever was or is made vainly or at random, but with 
great Htness and a lofty kind of harmony. Whereupon it would 
follow, that there was something admirable and truly divine in 
that method, which should be able both to discover and express 

1 40 Final Causes not enough to secure Science frojn Abuse. 

§ vi. 3. the said numbers with their proper causes. Suppose him then, 
on receiving from us such allowance and consent, to proceed to 
enumeration of the sand and pebbles of the earth, yea, also of 
the waves of the sea, and the stars of heaven, and to invent 
causes for the number which he fancied himself to have found ; 
would not his labour be justly judged vain by all considerate 
persons, and he himself bereft of all sense and reason ? And by 
how much he employs himself more than others in inquiries of 
that kind, and the higher opinion he has of his own peculiar 
inventions, calling others ignorant, and ordinary, and carnal ; so 
much the rather is he to be judged senseless and stupid, like a 
planet-struck person, making himself equal with God. Yea, by 
the knowledge which he fancies himself to have attained, he sur- 
passes God Himself, and aims his speculations higher than the 
very greatness of His Maker." 

It is plain that the author of this impressive warning did not 
only fear the fanciful application of natural science to the things 
of God, but also the tendency which it has in itself to make men 
overweening and irreligious. It is plain also that he did not 
consider this evil tendency sufficiently disproved by that constant 
reference to the final causes of things, on which many now seem 
apt to rely, as taking out the sting of physical studies entirely. 
His painful intercourse with heresy had taught him, that the 
fancy of possessing rare insight into the purposes of the Author 
of Nature is almost as great a snare, as the habit of contemplating 
nature without reference to any Author. The very attempt to 
know all — the very dreaming of such a thing — he felt was im- 
piety ; a deep sense of our necessary ignorance, and an humble 
acquiescence in it, the only safeguard of the inquisitive ingenious 

(3.) Accordingly, those ancient writers, who have dwelt most 
on the wisdom of God in the creation — such as St. Basil, in his 
Hexaemeron, and St. Ambrose, his imitator, one might almost 
say, his translator — have not thought it enough for piety, to urge 
every where the final causes of things, as disclosed by natural 
philosophy and history, but have also, again and again, admo- 
nished their readers, that no laws of nature will account for every 

Si. Ambrose and St. Basil on God's Presence in Creation. 141 

thing, that the wisest must soon corae to a point, where he must § vi. 3. 
stand still, and say, " Thus far I seem to trace things, but I can 
go no farther ; I can but make acknowledgment with those 
Egyptian philosophers, ' This is the finger of God.' " 

Thus St. Ambrose, being about to enter on the detail of Crea- 
tion in the second day's work, prefaces his remarks with a solemn 
caution ', " not to weigh what should be said by the traditions of 
philosophy, and its empty deceit, nor to gather up persuasive pro- 
babilities ; but to choose for their standard the rule of truth as 
expressed in the oracles of the Divine word, and poured into the 
bosom of the faithful by the contemplation of so high majesty : 
since it is written, ' Establish me in Thy words. The ungodly 
have propounded unto me discourses — htj]yl]aavTo d^oXto-xtac — 
but not after Thy law. All Thy commandments are truth.' 

" It is not, therefore, by the nature of the elements, but by the 
nature of Christ, who hath done all according to His will, abound- 
ing in the fulness of His Godhead, that we are to order our 
thoiights of what was made, and our inquiries into that which 
nature could bring about. Even as in the Gospel, when He was 
curing the leprous, and pouring light anew on the eyes of the blind, 
the people present and beholding His works acknowledged not 
any course of medical cure, but, in admiration of the Lord's 
power, gave, as it is written, glory to God. Nor was it on cal- 
culation of the numbers of the Egyptians, the combinations of the 
heavenly bodies, the proportions of the elements, that Moses 
stretched forth liis hand to the division of the Red Sea, but in 
simple obedience to the commandment of God's power. Whence 
also he saith himself, • Thy right hand, O Lord, hath waxed 
glorious in power : Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in 
pieces the enemy.' 

"That way, therefore," concludes St. Ambrose, " that way do 
ye lift up your minds, ye who form this holy congregation ; and 
turn your whole spirit in that direction. God seeth not as man 
secth : God looketh on the heart, man on the outward appear- 
ance. By the same rule, neither doth man see as God doth. 

' Hexaem. ii. 3l 

142 St, Ambrose s Mode of meeting physical Objectioni. 

§ vi. 3. Thou liearest, that God saw, and approved : far be it then from 
thee to judge by thine eyes of the things which He made, or by 
thine own thoughts to argue concerning them ; rather, what God 
saw, and approved, see that thou account not those things matter 
of free discussion." 

This by way of general caution. Afterwards, in a question 
about the conflux of the waters on the third day, he gives a spe- 
cimen of the mode in which ancient piety would silence physical 
objections. He supposes a mere physiologist objecting to the 
literal truth of the Mosaical statement, that, according to tlie 
nature of water, it must have found its level before ; it could not 
need the special divine command. St. Ambrose's answer is, 
virtually \ " How do you know, that before God gave the com- 
mand it was the nature of the waters so to glide or flow ? For this 
is a quality which they have of their own, not after the manner 
of the other elements, but special and peculiar ; not by any cer- 
tain order of causes, but by the direct will rather, and operatiori 
of the Most High God. What He commanded, they hear. Now 
the Voice of God is that which gives being to nature. The actual 
operation of things was, and is, but the fulfilment of that Word. 
Presently water begins to flow, and to pour itself into one assem- 
blage, having hitherto been diffused over the earth, and keeping 
its place in many different receptacles. I read nothing of its 
course before ; of its motion, before, I learn nothing ; mine eye 
hath not seen, nor mine ear heard. The water was stationary in 
divers places ; at the Voice of God it was put in motion. Doth 
it not appear that its nature was communicated to it by the afore- 
said Voice of God? His creature followed His commandment, 
md turned His law into an usage. Thus the law of His first 
establishment of things bequeathed them a form to all future time. 
To conclude: He made day and night once for all: from that 
moment continues the alteration and renewal of each of them, 
throughout so long a tiipe. Even so was the water commanded 
to run into one assemblage, and from thenceforth it does so 

1 Lib. iii. 8, t. i. 41. 

Poetical, Moral, Mystical Uses of Nature. 14$ 

This principle obviously applies no less to all the great simple § *'• ^• 
facts in nature: it is the j)rinciple of natural piety, "things are 
such, because God made and keeps them such : the most skilful 
analyst, the most dexterous combiner of machinery, must come to 
this at last : and if he would but be content to refer to it, and 
realize his dependence on it, throughout, he would go far towards 
securing himself from the peculiar dangers of his line of study '. 

(4.) But the one great and effectual safeguard against such idol- 
izing of the material world, or rather of our own minds acting 
upon it, is the habit of considering it in that other point of view, to 
which Christian Antiquity would guide us, as earnestly as it would 
withdraw us from the speculations of the mere natural philo- 
sopher. I mean the way of regarding external things, either as 
fraught with imaginative associations, or as parabolical lessons of 
conduct, or as a symbolical language in which God speaks to us 
of a world out of sight : which three might, perhaps, be not quite 
inaptly entitled, the Poetical, the Moral, and the Mystical, phases 
or aspects of this visible world. 

Of these, the Poetical comes first in order, as the natural 
groundwork or rudiment of the otlier two. This is indicated by 
all languages, and by the conversation of uneducated persons in 
all countries. There is every where a tendency to make the 
things we see represent the things we do not see, to invent or 
remark mutual associations between them, to call the one sort 
by the names of the other. 

The second, the Moral use of the material world, is the im- 
provement of the poetical or imaginative use of it, for the good 
of human life and conduct, by considerate persons, according to 
the best of their own judgment, antecedent to, or apart from, all 
revealed information on the subject. 

In like manner, the Mystical, or Christian, or Theological use 
of it is the reducing it to a particular set of symbols and associa- 
tions, which we have reason to believe has, more or less, the 
authority of the Great Creatoe Himself. 

Now the first peculiarity of the Fathers' teaching on this head 

^ Comp. St Amb. Hex. vi. Q ; ii. 7. 

1 44 Mysticism, the Poetry of the Church : 

vi. 5, 6. having been shown to be their jealousy of the merely scientific use 
of the external world, the next appears to be their instinctively 
substituting the mystical use in its room ; not a merely poetical, 
or a merely moral, but a mystical, use of things visible ; accord- 
ing to the exposition of the word mystical just above given. 

(5.) To state the matter somewhat diflerently : If we suppose 
Poetry in general to mean the expression of an overflowing 
mind, relieving itself, more or less indirectly and reservedly, of 
the thoughts and passions which most oppress it : — on which 
hypothesis each person will have a Poetry of his own, a set of 
associations appropriate to himself for the works of nature and 
other visible objects, in themselves common to him with others : — 
if this be so, what follows will not perhaps be thought altogether 
an unwarrantable conjecture ; proposed, as it ought, and is wished 
to be, with all fear and religious reverence. May it not, then, be 
so, that our Blessed Lokd, in union and communion with all His 
members, is represented to us as constituting, in a certain sense, 
one great and manifold Person, into which, by degrees, all souls 
of men, who do not cast themselves away, are to be absorbed? 
and as it is a scriptural and ecclesiastical way of speaking, to say, 
Christ suffers in our flesh, is put to shame in our sins, our mem- 
bers are part of Him ; so may it not be aflirmed that He conde- 
scends in like manner to have a Poetry of His own, a set of holy 
and divine associations and meanings, wherewith it is His will to 
invest all material things ? And the autlientic records of His 
will, in this, as in all other truths supernatural, are, of course, 
Holy Scripture, and the consent of ecclesiastical writers. 

(6.) It may be as well here to anticipate an objection, not un- 
likely to occur on first meeting with the above statement. How, it 
may be asked, are we to know, whether any particular image in an 
ancient Christian writer be properly mystical, or merely moral or 
poetical ? the momentary flight of some pious fancy, the edifying 
analogy observed by some impressive teacher, or a true token 
from the Creator of all things, given to our senses, of some truth 
which He would fix in our hearts? Any given image, on the face 
of it, may be either of these three : how are we to distinguish, 
with any certainty, the one from the other ? 

not unreal, because often indejlnile. 145 

Now, in the first place, the objection proceeds on the unhappy § vi. 7. 
and untenable supposition, that the truth, if we can at all approach 
it, must be clear, and plain to us throughout, and leave nothing 
unaccounted for. Surely there may be in the remains of Antiquity 
a human and a Divine Mysticism, without our being always, or 
even generally, able to draw the exact line between the two. We 
ourselves may be unworthy to decypher the writing, or our age 
may have lost the key to it, and yet we may be sure that it is, in 
part at least, a communication from the Source of Truth : and the 
fact may be most desirable for us to know, were it only that we 
might learn reverence in our way of dealing with the subject. 

Is there not something analogous in the case of Holy Scripture 
itself? We have reason to think that the personal character and 
circumstances of the several inspired writers were permitted to 
influence them, more or less, in their style and mode of composi- 
tion. But where, and how far, we can have no exact knowledge. 
It is seldom, if ever, given us to determine, what images were 
suggested to any Prophet or Apostle by his own ordinary expe- 
rience, and what were immediately prompted by the Holy Ghost. 

If this does not hinder our using the Scriptures to edification, 
no more need the other prevent our profiting by the imagery of 
the Fathers, in our mode of considering the visible and external 

(7.) In eflfect, however, universal consent will carry us further in 
this matter, as in many others, than we should be apt beforehand 
to imagine. There is a wonderful agreement among the Fathers, 
in the symbolical meanings which they assign to most of the 
great objects in nature; such an agreement as completely nega- 
tives the supposition of the whole having sprung from mere 
poetical association. It were against all calculation of probabili- 
ties, that so many writers, of various times, nations, and tempers, 
and in such different lines of life, should either light on the same 
set of figures independently of one another, or coincide in imitat- 
ing any one who had gone before them with no special authority ; 
more especially, as many of the symbols are far from possess- 
ing, at first sight, that exquisite poetical fitness, which would be 
required, regarding the whole as a matter of taste ; on the con- 

VOL. VI. — 89. L 

146 The Ancient Symbols not merely Poetical, or Moral. 

§ vi. 8. trary, notafewofthem are blamed, by the disparagers of Antiquity, 
on this very account, that they are so forced, overstrained, and 
irrelevant, and what classical judges may perhaps call t^vypd. 

Thus they complain, not perceiving that the fact on which 
they rest, if it were granted, tends on the whole to make us sup- 
pose a higher origin for the imagery in question, than any man's 
poetical or imaginative taste. Such writers, for example, as St. 
Ambrose or St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, or St. Gregory Nazian- 
zen, who evince in their remains the most vivid sense of poetics^l 
delicacy and beauty ; — when we find them all concurring in the 
use of symbols, such as have now been described, must we not 
suppose that they drew from a common source, and were guided 
in their selection by something deeper than imaginative delight 
in the beauties of nature, and in the exercise of their own inge- 
nuity ? 

(8.) The same may be said of the hypothesis (if such should 
occur to any one) which would make these allusions of the old 
writers merely moral ; i. e. so many analogies or similitudes selected 
by themselves, from the course of human life or external nature, to 
render some truth or precept more forcible and vivid. I do not 
deny that such analogies occur ; especially when they are em- 
ployed, as by St. Basil and St. Ambrose, in their Hexaemeron 
before mentioned, in descanting on the works of Creation. For 
example, we may take St. Basil's account of a mode which the 
gardeners had of correcting the insipid wateriness of certain 

" ^ Some plant the wild figs close to the cultivated : others 
bind the fruit of the forest fig to the mild and ciiltivated sort, 
and so heal its insipidity, the juice of the wilder having the effect 
of keeping the other from melting and falling away. Would 
you know what this riddle, presented to you by nature, signifies? 
That we should often do well to resort even to those who are 
aliens from the faith, and from them assume a kind of steady 
vigour, for the performance of good works. I mean, should you 
see any one either living as a heathen, or separated from the 

1 Hexaem. v. 7. t. i. 47. C. Ed. Bened. 1721. 

St. Basil recognizes the Mystical View of Nature. 147 

Church by perverse heresy, yet behaving soberly, and observing § vi. 8. 
discipline generally in his moral conduct, do thou draw more 
strictly the bands of thine own goodness, and so become like the 
fruitful fig-tree, gathering energy to itself from the presence of its 
wild kindred, so as both to stay its fruit from falling, and cherish 
it more effectually to its full size." 

It is easy to see that St. Basil produces this particular parable 
as an invention of his own, claiming no particular authority for it. 
And this I call the moral way of symbolizing natural objects. 

At the same time it may appear from the phrase, ri <rot ro 
Trapa rrJQ avKrjg a'tyiy^a ftovXtrai; that he was speaking as one 
himself aware, and among persons who made no question, that 
every part of nature has its appropriate atvty/xa, if we could but 
find it out. Now this was an opinion which St. Basil was little 
likely to frame for himself, through excessive indulgence to his 
own fancy, since he of all the Fathers most earnestly protests 
against the unrestrained use of allegory. We must then conclude 
that the sacramental or symbolical view of nature which he 
implies in the last mentioned clause, had been received by 
him as an acknowledged truth, not struck out as a speculation of 
his own. 

In other places, indeed, he avows it more distinctly : e. g. where 
he speaks of the heavenly bodies * : "If the heaven is vast 
beyond the measure of human understanding, what mind then 
shall have power to trace out the nature of the invisible things ? 
If the sun, which is subject to decay, is so fair, so large, so 
swiftly moving, yet so regular in fulfilling its courses, — being 
both for magnitude proportioned to the universe, so as not to 
exceed the due relation to the whole system, and for beauty a 
sort of clear eye to nature, the very ornament of all creation, — ifj, 
I say, this be a sight of which one can never have too much, what 
must He be for beauty, who is the Sun of Righteousness! If 
the blind have a loss in not beholding this our sun, how great is 
the sinner's loss in being deprived of the true light." Of this 
epithet. True, thus applied, more will be said by and by ; I will 

» Hexaem. vi. 1, t. i. 50. E. 
t 2 

148 Natural Symbols, in what sense Sacraments : 

§ vi. 9, 10, but suggest here, that on consideration it may possibly be found 
to involve the whole theory here contended for. 

In the next paiagrapli, St. Basil speaks thus of the heavenly 
bodies in general: "As the fire is one thing and the lamp 
another, the one properly having power to enlighten, the other 
made to conduct the light according to our needs ; so were the 
lights of heaven now framed as a vehicle for that purest and un- 
mingled and immaterial light. Even as the Apostle calls certain, 
' Lights in the world,' although the True Light of the world is 
other than they ; — such as that by participation of It the Saints 
became lights of the souls whom they disciplined, delivering them 
from the gloom of ignorance : — so also in the creation was this 
visible sun, stored with that brightest light, by the Maker of all, 
and kindled in the world." 

These, and similar divine parables, so to call them, are evi- 
dently introduced in somewhat of a difterent tone from that be- 
fore quoted about the cultivation of figs, which was introduced 
expressly and formally as a new thing ; whereas these assume a 
certain familiarity, on the hearer's part, with the symbolical 

(9.) If one were to call these latter, of the sun and stars, 
examples of a symbolical or sacramental view of nature, it would 
perhaps be no improper mode of expressing the fact here intended ; 
viz. that the works of God in creation and providence, besides 
their immediate uses in this life, appeared to the old writers as so 
many intended tokens from the Almighty, to assure us of some 
spiritual fact or other, which it concerns us in some way to know. 
So far, therefore, they fulfilled half at least of the nature of 
sacraments, according to the strict definition of our Catechism : 
they were pledges to assure us of some spiritual thing, if they 
were not means to convey it to us. They were, in a very suffici- 
ent sense. Verba visibilia. 

(10.) This relation of things sensible to spiritual, appears to be 
indicated by St. Irenaeus, who is the rather to be quoted on such 
a subject, because he seems to be unsuspected of Platonism, 
or any like forms of opinion, such as are supposed to have 
biassed the Alexandrian school. He states as follows the 

Statements of St. Irenceus and St. Augustin. 149 

analogy between God's visible dealings with us, and His invi- § vi. 10. 
sible dispensations. 

" The Word was made the dispenser of the Father's grace 
for the profit of men, on account of whom He made so many 
arrangements ; on the one hand showing God to man, on the 
other presenting man to God ; on the one hand maintaining the 
invisibility of the Father, lest at any time man should become 
a contemner of God, and that he might always have something 
to reach after and advance towards ; on the other hand, mani- 
festing God to the sight of men by many arrangements, lest 
man, falling altogether away from God, should cease to be. For 
the glory of God is a living man, but the life of man is the 
vision of God. And if that manifestation of God which is by 
the creature, supplies life to all things living upon the earth, 
much more that manifestation of the Father, which is by the 
Word, supplies life to those who have the sight of God \" 

This sentiment seems to warrant us in extending to the whole 
creation the maxim which occurs repeatedly in Irenaeus, as 
concerning the Old Testament : " Nihil enim otiosum, neque 
vacuum signo, apud Deum." The occasions, indeed, on which 
this saying is introduced, belong either to the types of the Law, 
or the history of the Patriarchs. But the saying itself has a 
proverbial air which gives it a much wider reference. It may 
seem to answer to that deep sentiment, which appears to run 
through the philosophical works of St. Augustin, and which he 
has himself expounded in the Book de Libera Arbitrio, l\. 41. 

" As the whole life of the body is the soul, so the happy life 
of the soul is God. . . And insomuch as it is granted us to 
rejoice in those true and certain goods, gleaming upon us even 
while yet in this dark journey, consider whether this be not 
what is written concerning wisdom ; . . . * she will shew her- 
self to them cheerfully in the way, and meet them with every 
kind of Providence :' i. e. whichever way thou turnest thyself, 
she speaks to thee by certain traces which she hath impressed 
upon her works, and when thou slippest back to external things, 

» P. 333. Ed. Grab. 

150 St. Augvstin on the Mystery of natural Beauty. 

§ vi. 10. recalls thee by the very forms of those external things. 
So that whatsoever delights thee in the body, and allures thee 
by the bodily senses, thou mayest perceive to be according to 
certain numbers; and inquiring its origin, mayest return into 
thyself, and understand that whatever reaches thee by the bodily 
senses, cannot be to thee an object of approbation or the 
contrary, except thou hast within thee certain laws of beauty, 
to which thou mayest refer whatever seems outwardly fair 
to thee." 

Then, having given instances m the works of nature and 
of art, in the beauty of motion and of form, and in the science 
itself of numbers, gradually tracing all to their mysterious origin, 
God revealing Himself by His Word or Wisdom, he breaks out* 
into the following beautiful admonition : 

*' Woe to those who forsake Thee their guide, and go astray 
in Thy footsteps ; who love Thy beckonings instead of Thee, 
atid forget what Thou intimatest by them, O Wisdom, most 
delectable light of the purified spirit. For never dost Thou 
cease to beckon to us, what and how great Thou art, and all 
beauty in Thy creatures is but so many beckonings of Thine." 

Elsewhere, in a vein of stricter argument, he shows how each 
created thing, in that it is created, is an image or symbol of the 
Most Holy Trinity. 

" All these things then, made as they are by Divine skill, 
exhibit in themselves both a certain unity, and a certain kind, 
and a certain order. For whatever of these things exists, is first 
some one thing, such as are the frames of bodies, and the intellec- 
tual powers of souls : next, it is formed according to a certain 
kind, such as are the figures and qualities of bodies, and the 
faculties of knowledge or of art, which distinguish souls : lastly, 
it craves or retains a certain order, to which head belong the 
weights and positions of bodies, the appetites and delights of 
souls. It behoves us, therefore, looking at the Creator, who is 
understood by the things that are made, to form the idea of a 
Trinity, whereof in each creature, according as it is meet, is to 
be seen some trace ^." 

» Ibid. 43. * De Trin. vi. 12. 

2'Ae Hexacmeron of St. Basil and St. Ambrose. 151 

(II.) But it is not so much the manner of the Fathers to ex- § vi. 11. 
press their principles of interpretation in set statements, as to be 
continually referring to them, exemplifying them, and variously 
bringing them out. Now there is no need, of course, to prove 
the abundance of mystical allusion in the early Christian writers. 
It is the very point which has most exposed them to the censure 
of modern schools. But it may be of use to produce some 
specimens of it, which, if they be fairly selected, and sufficiently 
explained by the general statement above, may so far afford a 
presumption in its favour. Perhaps it will be as fair an expe- 
riment as any, if we take the two treatises which have been 
already cited, the Hexaemeron of St. Basil, and that of St. 
Ambrose : if indeed they can properly be denominated two trea* 
tises, the one being in many parts but a free translation of the 

Their peculiar fitness for such a purpose, lies partly in their 
subject, and partly in the character of their authors. The sub- 
ject, the history of creation, was one which put them especially 
on their guard against excess of symbolizing, to the disparage- 
ment of the historical sense ; as is proved by St. Basil's earnest 
and repeated protest, cited before in these papers. His habits 
of thought were moreover of that severe and scrupulous cast, 
which would least suffer the imagination to take liberties. 

The tendency of St. Ambrose, it may be thought, was rather 
the reverse of St. Basil's in this respect. But he too has several 
observations, implying that he dared not indulge his own or his 
hearers' fancy for mystical expositions, beyond a certain extent. 
Comparing the literal meaning to simple fare, which it is both 
charity and good sense to offer, rather than send the guests 
away hungry ; " Elisha," says he \ *' did not blush to set before 
them barley loaves : and are we ashamed, when we find things 
thus designated by their simple and proper names, to under- 
stand by them simply the things created ? We read of Heaven, 
let us take it to be Heaven : we read of earth, let us understand 
that earth which bears fruit." 

' Hex. vi. C. 

152 The whole Visible World, a type of the whole Invisible. 

§ vi. 12, 13. Ambrose then apologized for abiding so much by the letter: 
Basil strongly reproved those who were for wandering from it too 
widely. Concerning each, therefore, it is evident, that when they 
did allow themselves to allegorize, they were proceeding on some 
principle, not merely pleasing themselves. The one probably 
would have had more of this sort, the other less, had it not been 
for the Church's recognized line of interpretation. As it is, they 
furnish between them a list of symbols, which ranges through no 
small portion of created nature. 

(12.) First, we have the sum of this visible world declared to 
be an index or token of the invisible. " Some," observes St. Am- 
brose ', '* understand the word, ' beginning,' in the first verse of 
Genesis, not in reference to time, but before time : as meaning the 
chief point, or head, as if one should say in Latin, summa operis ; 
heaven and earth being the sum of all visible things. And 
visible things seem to bear relation, not only to the fitting up of 
this world, but also to the setting forth of things invisible, and to 
furnish a sort of argument of the things which are not seen ; 
according to the saying in the Prophet, ' The Heavens declare 
the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handywork.' 
After whom the Apostle, in other words, but in the same sen- 
timent, winds up his discourse, saying, * That the invisible things 
of Him are understood by the things which are made.' For we 
readily think of Him as the Author of angels, and dominations, 
and powers, by the moving power of whose Word this world, 
so beautiful, was caused to be out of nothing, not having before 

(13.) As to particulars : the arch of the sky ^ is a canopy spread 
over the tents and dwellings of the saints. This, in reference to 
its form : and then, in reference to the material of which the 
canopy of the tabernacle in the desert was made, the sky again is 
a scroll, whereon are written " the names of those many, who 
have attained Christ's favour by their faith and devotion ; to 
whom it is said, ' Rejoice, because your names are written in 
heaven.' " 

' Hex. i. 16. * Ibid. 21. 

Mystical Meaning of Sky, Birds, Waters. 153 

The flight and hovering of birds, again, is a token that there § vi. 13. 
are Powers in heaven above who ^watch our proceedings in this 
lower world. Hence a well-known saying of our Lord's is 
quoted by St. Ambrose' as follows: " * The birds of heaven do 
always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven.' And 
the clause, * Birds around the firmament of heaven,' intimates that 
the Powers which are in that visible space, behold all things in this 
region, and have all brought under the observation of their eyes." 

The waters flowing into the sea, are the people gathered into the 
Church of Christ ^. *' The water," says St. Ambrose, *' knows 
how to be gathered, how to shrink and flee away, when God 
gives the word. . . . Let us be like this water, let us recognize 
one congregation of the Lord, one only Church. . . . To us also 
it hath been said, * Let the water be gathered from every valley,' 
and there hath ensued a spiritual gathering, and one people : the 
Church hath been replenished from among the heretics and 

heathens This is the Church which hath been ' founded 

upon the seas, and prepared upon the floods.' For upon you it is 
established and prepared, who, like rivers run down into it, clean 
from a pure fountain : concerning which it is said, ' The floods 
have lift up, O Lord ; the floods have lift up their voice through 
the sound of many waters.' And it goes on, * Wonderful are the 
swellings of the sea ; wonderful is the Lord in His high places.' 
Good rivers are ye : for ye have drunk of that eternal and full 
fountain, wherein He flows who saith to you, ' He that be- 
lieveth on Me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water.'" 

In pursuance of this thought, the sound of the sea is the 
Church service^. " What else is that concert of waves but a 
kind of concert of the people? For which cause it is a true 
similitude, which is commonly made of the sea to a Church, first 
receiving or swallowing by all its porches certain waves of people 
entering in long array, then in the prayer of the whole congre- 
gation sounding as with refluent waves, when in harmony to the 

> Hex. ii. 15. » Ibid. iii. 2—6. s Ibid. iii. 24. 

154 Mystical Meaning of Herbs, JV^eds, Flowers : 

§ vi. 14. responsories of the Psalms an echo is made, a breaking of waves, 
by the chanting of men and women, of virgins and children." 

(14.) Herbs again, and flowers, are the life and body of man. 
" When thou seest '," says St. Basil, " a blade of grass or a 
flower, let it guide thee to the thought of human nature, remem- 
bering the image of the wise Prophet Isaiah, ' All flesh is grass, 
and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.' " But this of 
course is too obvious to need dwelling on. 

Tares and weeds are false principles : not every kind of sin, 
but wrong and perverse teaching. *' Such spurious seeds ^" re- 
marks the same St. Basil, " are produced not by any change in 
the seed-corn, but subsist by an origin of their own, having an 
appropriate kind. Yea, and they fulfil the image of those who 
adulterate the doctrines of the Lord, and in no genuine way 
become disciples of His word, but rather are corrupted by the 
teaching of the Evil One, yet mingle themselves with the health- 
ful body of the Church." 

The smell of flowers is the odour of sanctity. " How great," 
exclaims St. Ambrose ^, " is the beauty of a well-stored field ! 
What fragrance ! what sweetness ! what satisfaction to those who 
till it ! how impossible to express it worthily, were we to use 
our own language ! But we have certain testimonies from 
Scripture, wherein we see that the fragrance of a field is com- 
pared to the blessing and grace of the Saints ; as saith holy Isaac, 
•The smell of my son is like the smell of a field.' " 

Thorns on roses betoken the sting of pleasant sins, as says 
St. Basil * : '* The rose at first beginning was thornless, but 
afterwards to the beauty of the flower the thorn also was super- 
induced ; that close to the delightfulness of pleasure we might 
have pain besetting us in every case, remembering sin, on account 
of which the earth was sentenced to put forth to us thorns and 

Grafting, in its several foi-ms, is moral and devotional improve- 

» Hexaem. v, 2. t. i. 41. D. » Ibid. v. 6. p. 44. B. 

3 Ibid. iii. 36. * Ibid. v. 6. t. i. 45. A. 

Grafting; the Tatnarisk ; the Palm ; the Heavenly Bodies. 155 

ment. " Let no one therefore," says St. Basil ', " as yet living in § ti. 15. 
evil, cast himself away in despair, knowing that as husbandry 
alters the qualities of plants, so the training of the soul according 
to virtue is capable of mastering every sort of distemperature." 

The myrica, or tamarisk, is the plant chosen by the Spirit, 
through Jeremiah, as an emblem of a double mind : for " as 
such persons," says St. Ambrose *, " are every where at call, at 
once professing, with the good, kindness and simplicity, and con- 
necting themselves as closely as possible with the worst of men : 
so also these shrubs, by a contradictory kind of rule, grow both 
in watery and in desert places." 

The palm is the chosen type of eternal purity. Other ever- 
greens *■ — " the olive," for instance, ** and the pine — never put off 
their apparel ; yet, however, they often change their leaves, which 
keep the tree clothed in beauty, not by perpetual continuance, 
but by uninterrupted succession. But the palm remains ever 
green by the preservation and enduring, not the changeful suc- 
cession, of its leaves. The very first which it put forth, it re- 
tains without substitution or fresh supply. Do thou then, O 
man, become like unto it, that to thee also it may be said, • This 
thy stature is like unto a palm-tree.' Preserve the verdure of 
thy childhood, and of that natural innocence, which thou didst 
receive in the beginning : that, planted as thou art beside the 
rivers of waters, thou mayest have thy fruit prepared in thy 
season, and thy leaf may not fall. This verdure of ever-flou- 
rishing grace the Church having attained in Christ, saith, ' In 
His shadow I sat down with earnest desire.' This gift of ver- 
dure in the first instance the Apostles also received, that as no 
leaf of theirs could ever fall away, so their very shadow should 
be the healing of the sick." 

(15.) Proceeding to the works of the fourth day, we have 
another set of well-known symbols. The Sun, the greater 
light, is our Lord ; the Moon, the lesser light, the Church. 
" ' He appointed the moon for certain seasons, and the Sun 
knoweth his going down.' This place," St. Ambrose tells us *, 
" appears to be commonly understood in a mystical sense con- 

» Hexaem. v. 7- t. i. 46, 47. » Ibid. iii. 69. » Ibid. 71. * i?. 7. 

1 56 Mystical Meaning of the Sun, Moon, Stars : 

vi. 15. cerning Christ and His Church : i. e. of our Lord's recognizing 
His own death and passion in the body, when He said, ' Father, 
the hour is come, do Thou glorify Thy Son :' that by such His 
setting He might give eternal life to all, who till then were op- 
pressed with the setting of perpetual death ; that His Church 
might have her certain seasons, of persecution, namely, and of 
peace. For, like the moon, she seems to fail, but fails not indeed. 
She may be overshadowed, fail she cannot. Thus in persecutions 
some indeed depart, and cause her to wane, but it is in oriler to 
her being replenished by the confessions of martyrs ; and blood 
shed for Christ makes her bright with its triumphs, and her full 
orb pours forth more abundantly the glory of her devotion and 
faith. For the moon is subject to a diminution of her light, not 
of her orb ... as may be easily seen when the air is pure and 
transparent." A little after he adds ', " This is the true moon, 
which, from the never-failing light of her brother borrows 
for herself the lustre of immortality and grace. For the Church 
shineth not with her own but with our Saviour's light, and draws 
to herself splendour from the Sun of Righteousness, that her 
word may be, ' It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in 

The Saints are stars in this mystical heaven, as we have seen 
in a passage from St. Basil. 

The four quarters of the heaven, again, have their part in this 
sacred and universal language. What the east stands for is well 
known : and St. Ambrose, from a passage in Canticles, tells us 
that the south is the region of the Church '. " Tell me. Thou 
whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou abidest 
in the south ;" i. e. as he explains it, '• in the region of the 
Church, where righteousness shines forth, where judgment is 
dazzling as the noon-day, where no shadow is seen, where the 
days are longer, because the Sun of Righteousness abides in them 
more continually, as in the summer months." And the east and 
south being interpreted, we know of course the probable inter- 
pretations of the two opposite regions ; which however shall not 

' Ibid. 32. » Ibid. 22. 

the SiUc-worm : the Turtle-dove: the Wolf. 157 

be dwelt on here, as they do not occur in the treatises now under § vi. 16. 

(16.) Of the many instances which might be specified from 
among the works of the two remaining days, it will be enough 
only to mention three : two of them remarkable as having been 
constantly employed, by poets and moralists, to represent some 
portion of those truths, by associations with which the Church has 
made them Mysteries. St. Basil uses the silk-worm as an evidence 
or token of the Resurrection '. " You, who disbelieve St. Paul, 
concerning the change when our bodies shall be raised, what say 
you on beholding so many of the inhabitants of the air, how they 
change their forms? As we are told concerninij that horned Indian 
worm, that it first changes into a grub, then goes on and becomes 
a chrysalis, and neither in this form does it abide, but decks 
itself with broad and light pinions. When ye women, therefore, sit 
carding out the produce of their work, I mean the threads which 
the Seres export to us for the manufacture of soft garments, I 
would have you take it as a manifest hint of the Resurrection, 
and not disbelieve the change which Paul announces to all men." 
Again, St. Ambrose sanctions the image, now almost trivial 
among us, of the turtle-dove, as representing chaste and holy 
widowhood. " The Law of God," says he ^, " hath selected the 
turtle as a gift of chaste and pure sacrifice. In fact, when our 
Lord was circumcised, this was the offering : * a pair of turtle- 
doves, or two young pigeons.' For this is the true sacrifice of 
Christ : bodily chastity, and spiritual grace. Chastity is asso- 
ciated with the turtle, grace with the pigeon. For it is said that 
when the turtle has been widowed by the loss of her proper mate, 
she refuses to pair any more .... See how great is the grace of 
widowhood, which is honoured even in birds." 

One instance more may be mentioned, taken from among qua- 
drupeds. The wolf is with St. Ambrose, as in holy Scripture, 
the appropriate symbol of the Evil One, wasting the Church or 
besetting it. Upon this he observes (assuming common notions 
to be true)' : " If a wolf sees a man before he is seen, the si"ht 

' viii. 8. t. i. 78. E. » v. 62. 3 vi, 26, 27. 

158 Mysterious Image of God iw the Soul of Man. 

§ vi. 17. takes away the man's voice ; but if he feel that the man saw him 
first, it takes away his fierceness, and he is unable to give chace. 
.... Do beasts then know how to seek what shall profit them ; 
and art thou, O man, ignorant of thy proper helps ? Knowest 
thou not how to take away the courage of the Adversary, that as 
a wolf seen first he may not escape thee, that thine eye may 
discern his perfidy, and thou mayest be beforehand with him, and 
stay the course of his words, — blunt Itis audacity and sharpness 
of disputation. Whereas, if he anticipate thee, he takes away thy 
voice. . . . Again, if a wolf rise up against thee, take a stone, and 
he flies. Thy stone [of defence] is Christ. Betake thee to 
Christ, and the wolf flies, nor shall he be able to confound thee." 
Thus even popular and legendary sayings, on matters at first sight 
farthest from religion, were made to convey high lessons, and 
remind men of sacred duties. 

(17.) Perhaps this exemplification of the mystical use of all 

God's works, in the order of their creation, may be not unfitly 

crowned with mention of that Image of God, which, as St. Au- 

gustin explains, both in his books on the Trinity, and in the City 

of God, man bears in his mind, even in every thought of it. Thus 

he speaks, in the later and more highly finished of the two works 

just mentioned : after pointing out how in all His creatures, 

and especially in the threefold division of knowledge, which 

even Gentile Philosophy acknowledged, God had left covert 

traces of the Father who made all, the Son by whom all were 

made, the Holy Spirit, or impersonated goodness, for whom all 

were made ; — he proceeds to say ' : •' And we even within ourselves 

acknowledge a certain image of God, even of that most High 

Trinity, at unspeakable distance indeed, yet such, that nothing 

among God's creatures is by nature more akin to Him ; and 

we expect yet a new creation, to bring it very near to Him by 

resemblance also. For, first, we are : secondly, we are conscious of 

being : thirdly, we delight in this our being and consciousness . . . 

^ These three we hold for certain of our own ; we trust not for 

them to other people's testimony ; we ourselves feel them present, 

and discern them by an inward and most infallible kind of sight." 

* De Civ. Dei, xi. 26. 2 Ibid. § 28. 

Virtues and Graces expressed by the bodily Members. 159 

" Because therefore we are men, made after the image of Him § v'- 18. 
who created us, to whom appertains True Eternity, Eternal 
Truth, love both Eternal and True ; and He is the very Trinity, 
Eternal, and True, and beloved, neither confounded, nor sepa- 
rated : in those things of course which are beneath us, feeling as 
we do, that they neither could at all exist, nor be contained under 
any idea, nor either seek or maintain any order, except they were 
made by Him who in the highest sense Is, in the highest sense is 
Wise, in the highest sense is Good : let us trace out His foot- 
steps, so to call them, impressed on all the things which He 
hath made, though on some more, on some less ; but in ourselves 
contemplating the Image of Him, even as that younger son in 
the Gospel, let us arise and return to ourselves, in order that we 
may return to Him, from whom by transgression we had with- 
drawn ourselves. There our being shall no longer incur death ; 
nor our knowledge, error ; nor our Ipve, disappointment \" 

(18.) Yet further: as the soul of man appears to be, in this 
sense, an image of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity, so his 
body is divinely adapted to the expression of the several virtues 
and graces, which God would new-create in him. St. Ambrose, 
in the end of his treatise so often referred to, has worked out this 
idea in considerable detail. 

" The Forehead is an image of the soul," he says ^, " speaking 
in the countenance : it is a sort of ground or tablet of Faith, on 
which day by day the Name of the Lord is inscribed and retained '." 

Again, alluding to the Kiss of Peace in the Holy Communion *, 
" By the Lips," says he, "Piety and Charity are pledged, the 
faithful affection of entire love is expressed." 

Again ' : *' The Hand is that whereby we both work and dis- 
pense divine mysteries : by the name whereof the Son of God 
did not scorn to be designated, where David says, * Thy right 
Hand, O Lokd, hath wrought mightily : Thy right Hand, O Lord, 
hath exalted me.' " Thus he makes the Hand the symbol of ac- 
tive devotion. 

» De Civ. Dei, § 28. 

* Hex. vi. 58. » i. e. when people cross themselves. 

* Ibid. 68. » Ibid. 69. 

160 Variety of Mystical Emblems not umcrtptural. 

§vi. 19, 20. Lastly, the Foot by the same statement* expresses humility 
and diligent obedience. 

(19.) Upon these examples, taken collectively, one or two 
observations may be made. 

First, It will have been seen that the great majority of them, 
the most important, and those of which the writers speak most 
positively, are gathered out of Holy Scripture itself; a circum- 
stance which singly would afford some presumption, that in the 
rest of their imagery, not so immediately Scriptural, they did 
not altogether indulge their own private fancies. 

Again : if the figures used by any writer appear at first sight 
irreconcileable with those used by another, or by himself else- 
where : this also may be paralleled in Scripture, and in both will 
generally admit of explanation, by tracing the original allusion 
a little farther back. E. g. Water, as is well known, is the 
oiKtloy, the choice image, both in Scripture and in the Fathers, 
to express God's Holy Spirit communicated to His Church. 
But St. Ambrose, as we have seen, makes the same waters the 
emblem of Christ's people flowing into the Church : as St. 
Cyprian* had done before him, where he teaches that the water 
in the Eucharistical cup is the token of the Christian people. 
But these two meanings are not inconsistent, if we conceive the 
Blessed Spirit to be graciously identifying Himself with the 
people whom He sanctifies ; representing the change wrought in 
them as so entire, that henceforth they, the whole being of each 
of them, may be considered as effects and gifts from Him. Or, 
if no such explanation occurred, still the incongruity would not 
be greater than that which is found in the different applications 
of the same symbol of water in the Holy Scripture itself: on 
comparing, e. g. that living Water, which represents the Un- 
speakable Gift, with the waters on which the mystical Baby- 
lon sate, representing " nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and 

(20.) Thirdly, it may seem strange that some of these mystical 
allusions should be grounded on fable, not on fact : that to the 

' Ibid. 74 ' Ep. 63. p. 153, 164. Ed. Fell. 

Some Symbols grounded on Legend, not on Fact. 161 

Phoenix', for example, and to the conception of the Vulture' §vi. 21. 
without a mate (which is alleged in association with the Immacu- 
late Conception). And the scorn is inexpressible, with which 
the old ecclesiastical writers, from St. Clement of Rome down- 
wards, have been visited, among modern critics, on this ground 

But in the first place, these supposed facts, many of them, 
are brought forward not merely as providential intimations of 
mysterious Truths, but as arguments also from analogy, to silence 
gainsayers, St. Clement, for example, says in effect, " You 
believe this history of the Phoenix ; why should a resurrection 
be thought incredible by you?" It is clear that the force of this 
depends not on the absolute truth of the statement, but on 
its general acceptance by those to whom he was addressing 

Further ; this also is one of those topics on which objectors 
had need look well to themselves, lest they find that unawares 
they have been dealing irreverently with the undoubted Word of 
God. What are we to make, on their principle, of the inspired 
direction to go to the ant, consider her ways, and imitate her 
forethought, now that it appears to be held among naturalists, 
that the common notion of that insect's frugality is no better 
than a common error ' ? Whatever account can be given of that 
passage in Scripture, may be given, apparently, of like allega- 
tions, now found erroneous, in the writings of the Fathers. 

(21.) Lastly, no doubt a considerable number of the above cited 
instances of Mysticism in things visible, will appear to some very 
cold, strained, and unnatural. Of these, however, not a few will be 
found, on closer examination, to be no more than developments, 
applications, or extensions, of imagery authorized by Scripture 
itself, or by the universal Church. And even where that cannot 
be made to appear, it is dangerous surely so to assume the con- 
trary, as to indulge any light disrespectful thoughts of such 
similitudes or associations, or of the writers who pointed them 

1 S. Ambrose, Ilex. v. 79. S. Clem. Rom. Ep. 1. 25. 
» S. Ambr. V. C4, 65. 

• Kirby and Spence, Introd. to Entomology, vol. ii. 46. 
VOL. VI. — 89. H 

1 62 Reverence due to these Indications of God's Presence. 

§ vii. 1, 2. out ; considering how many such things may unquestionably be 
found in God's own Word, which, if we lighted upon them in any 
other book, we should be tempted to treat with the same kind of 
disrespect. Here, as in every part of our patristical studies, it 
may be well to bear in mind the dream of Jacob, that we may 
not to our fear and shame have to awake by and by, and say, 
" Surely the Lord was with us in so many places, betokened by 
so many of His creatures, and we knew it not, but treated the 
thought unworthily." 

§ vii. Warrant of Scripture for the Mystical View of things natural. 

(1.) Enough, it is presumed, has been said on this subject, so 
far as mere illustration of the fact goes. The store of examples 
which has been adduced from two brief treatises only, the one 
by St. Basil, the other by St. Ambrose, on the six days' work of 
creation, must be enough to show any attentive student, that if 
the Fathers were wrong in this matter, they were most persever- 
ingly and obtrusively wrong. If the principle of Mystical Inter- 
pretation be at all an unhealthy symptom, it is so, not as a local 
evil, but as a constitutional taint. 

But it will be the object of this section to give some reasons 
for believing, that such use of external things was intended by 
the Almighty from the beginning of the Creation ; reasons taken 
from Scripture, and to be illustrated perhaps hereafter by the 
apparent ways of God's Providence, in preparing mankind for 
Gospel Truth. 

(2.) First, then, attention is desired to the use of the word 
aXrjdivoQ, True ; in the New Testament. It will be found very 
significant, and to some may appear almost decisive, on the point 
now under consideration. 

Careful readers, of the Epistle to the Hebrews more especially, 
must have noticed how the things of the Christian Dispensation, 
as distinct from those of the Jewish, are characterized by this 
epithet, aXrjdivd. Thus our Saviour is designated as riHy ayiwy 
XsiTOvpyoc, Kal rfjc aKTfyrje rfje aXrjBivfig, "a Minister of the 
Sanctuary, and of the True Tabernacle." And afterwards the 
holy places made with hands are spoken of as merely ayrirvrra 

Scripture Use of the Epithet, True. 163 

Twy uXrjdivuit', "Figures of the True\" The word has evi- | § vii. 2. 
dentlya relative signification : it implies the substance in opposition 
to the shadow ; answering perhaps most exactly to " real" in the 
language of the present day. And this agrees well enough with 
the classical use of it : e. g. in Aristotle's Ethics * : " To be well 
and rightly framed by Nature towards the pursuit of the best end, 
must be, if such a thing exist, fi reXtia ical aXridivfi ev<j>vta, per- 
fect and real excellence of Nature :" implying evidently that there 
were spurious qualities, claiming that name improperly. And 
again, in the same author ^ *' In our reasonings on practical matter, 
general statements are Koivorepoi, ' more comprehensive,' but par- 
ticular ones are aXrjdivwrepoi, * have more of reality in them.' " 
So Demosthenes speaks of ^iXot aXrfdivol, "true friends*," and 
Polybius* of aXridiyij Traideia, "true discipline," as opposed to 
pretences of extraordinary warmth of affection, or skill in train- 

Such also will be found to be the force of the word in the LXX, 
answering most frequently to the Hebrew substantive /^D^l : 
much in the same usage as the substantive aXydeia, which, by the 
confession of all commentators, more especially in St. John, 
means the antitype as opposed to the type : " The Word dwelt 
among us, full of Grace and Truth :" " Grace and Truth came by 
Jesus Christ:" "They that worship Him, must worship Him 
in Spirit and in Truth :" " Ye shall know the Truth, and the 
Truth shall make you free :" ** I am the Way, and the Truth, and 
the Life :" " When the Spirit of Truth is come, He shall guide 
you into all Truth." In air these places, and in others similar to 
them, the exposition of Theophylact seems to be generally re- 
ceived, "The word, Truth, may be understood by way of con- 
trast to the old figures or types, which were not the Truth, 
o^Tivec ovK 7i(Tav aXrjdEia." 

With this notion on our minds of the force of aXrideia and its 
kindred words, let us proceed to examine such places as the 
following : " That was the True Light, to <j>u)s to aXTjdiyoy, which 

> Heb. viii. 2 ; ra. 24. » iti. v. 17. » Ibid. ii. vii, 1. 

* t. i. 113, 27. ed. Reiske. » I. i. 2. 

M 2 

164 " The True Light" parallel to " The True Tabernacle :" 

§ vii. 2. lighteneth every man that cometh into the world :" " I am the 
True Vine, r) d'/iTieXoc v aXr)dipi) — and My Father is the Hus- 
bandman :" " Moses gave you not that Bread from Heaven, but 
My Father giveth you the True Bread from Heaven : rdy dproy 
EK Tov ovpuyov Tov uXqQtvov :" " If ye have not been faithful in the 
unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to your trust the True 
Riches ?" TO aXridipoy rig vffiv dwaet ; " who will give you that 
which is real and true, not merely pretence and shadow V 

On these and the like places, it seems natural to inquire, If the 
mention of the True Sanctuary, the True Tabernacle, the True 
Holy Place, leads us to think of those particulars, at least in the 
Jewish economy and ritual, as shadowy and typical of things far 
more real, far more perfect than themselves : does not the mention 
of the True Vine, the True Light, the True Riches, tend in the 
same manner to encourage a notion, that the external and visible 
objects, so referred to, have their counterpart in a world out of 
sight, wherein things exist in some manner secret to us, but as 
much more substantial and excellent than the mode of their being 
here, as the things of the Gospel and Church of Christ are better 
than those of the Law and Tabernacle of Moses ? As it was not 
possible for a thoughtful believing person, having once heard of 
the True Tabernacle, to consider that which stood in the wilder- 
ness as any other than an unreal figure of the true ; so when the 
Holy Spirit had spoken to men of the True Light, faithful hearers 
must have learned thenceforth to have far other and higher asso- 
ciations with this light which we see, than they could have had 
otherwise. They know that it is now but a faint earthly shadow 
of a radiance as much more real than itself, as it is purer and 
more unspeakably glorious. And so of the other instances, in 
which the same form of speaking is implied. 

But further: as the mention of the Sanctuary and Tabernacle, 
the Ark and certain other particulars, must of course lead reflecting 
minds, even without further information, to the surmise, that in 
regard likewise of other points not specified, and in short in its 
whole range and detail, the Jewish economy was typical of the 
Christian ; so when the True Light and the True Vine are 
named, we are naturally carried on to say to ourselves, " What, if 

Popular Impressions confirmed by Scripture Phraseology. 165 

the whole scheme of sensible things be figurative ? What, if all § vii. 3. 
aiadrjra answer to foi^ra in the same kind of way as these which 
are expressly set down ? What, if these are but a slight speci- 
men of one great use which Almighty God would have us 
make of the external world, and of its relation to the world 
spiritual ?" 

Certainly the form itself of speaking, with which these symbols 
are introduced, would seem to imply some such general rule : 
" That was the True Light ;" " I am the True Vine ;" " who 
will give you the True Riches?" taking for granted in a manner 
the fact, that there was somewhere in the nature of things a true 
counterpart of these ordinary objects, — a substance, of which 
they were but unreal shadows ; — and only informing us in each 
case, with authority, what that counterpart and substance was. 

Should it further appear, that among those to whom the Scrip- 
tures were addressed, there existed a feeling or opinion, call it 
poetical or philosophical, or let it have been a mere popular 
fancy, that such a connexion as this language seems to point to 
really exists between the worlds visible and invisible ; the argu- 
ment for the proposed interpretation of the word aXtjOivdu would 
seem to be so far strengthened. We may reason here as about 
real possession by Daemons. The more popular the opinion, the 
less likely, surely, to find countenance in the language of inspira- 
tion, if it were an error. 

Now it would seem, that to one large class at least, of those 
to whom the writings of St. John were at first addressed, — the 
Hellenistical Jews of Alexandria, — this doctrine of correspond- 
ence between things seen and unseen was familiar and very 

(3.) But not to pursue this topic further at present ; let it be 
considered, whether there are not, on the face of Scripture itself, 
other obvious appearances in its favour. In the first place, there 
is the broad fact, that the revealed oracles deal so largely, I 
had almost said so unreservedly, in symbolical language taken 
from natural objects : and next, what is equally obvious, that the 
chosen vehicle for the most direct divine communications has 
always been that form of speech, which most readily adopts and 
invites such imagery ; viz, the Poetical. These are undeniable 

166 Typical Nature of Scripture Metaphors. 

§ vii, 3. and surely most significant circumstances, and hardly to be 
accounted for by the sayings of those, who would reduce all 
Mysticism to the mere workings of human fancy. Let us reflect, 
distinctly and at large, on each of them. 

And first, as to the symbolical language of Scripture, is there not 
something very striking, to a thoughtful reverential mind, in the 
simple fact of such language occurring there at all ? This is not 
meant of merely metaphorical and figurative language, expressing 
one human and temporal matter by another ; but the case intended 
is, when truths supernatural are represented in Scripture by visible 
and sensible imagery. Consider what this really comes to. The 
Author of Scripture is the Author of Nature. He made His 
creatures what they are, upholds them in their being, modifies 
it at His will, knows all their secret relations, associations, and 
properties. We know not how much there may be, far beyond 
mere metaphor and similitude, in His using the name of any one 
of His creatures, in a translated sense, to shadow out some thing 
invisible. But thus far we may seem to understand, that the 
object thus spoken of by Him is so far taken out of the number 
of ordinary figures of speech, and resources of language, and 
partakes thenceforth of the nature of a Type. 

For what is it wherein our idea of a Scriptural Type differs 
from that of a mere illustration or analogy ? It appears to lie 
chiefly in these two things : first, that the event or observance 
itself, to which we annex the figurative meaning, was ordered, 
we know, from the beginning, with reference to that meaning : 
next, that the ideas having been once associated with each other, 
by authority of God's own Word, reverential minds shall never 
thereafter be able to part with that association ; the sign will to 
them habitually prove a remembrance and token of the thing 
signified : and this also must have been intended in the first 
sanctioning of the type, being the inevitable result, in all minds 
that fear God, and watch for the signs of His presence. Thus 
Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, for example, had it been related 
only by Josephus, might well have been used by way of simili- 
tude or comparison to illustrate the sacrifice of God's only 
begotten Son, on the same mountain, two thousand years after : 
but it is not clear that we could have positively called it a Type. 

Scripture sanctions Natural as well as Historical Types. 167 

That which warrants us in doing so, is the constant interpreta- § vii. 4. 
tion of the Church, confirming the thought which would natu- 
rally enter into good and considerate hearts on reading of it in 
the Scriptures. 

Now let us transfer this notion of a Type, from historical events 
related in Scripture, to such allusions as are now in question — 
allusions to the works of nature, and the outward face of things. 
There also the same distinction is clearly conceivable. Let an 
uninspired poet or theologian be never so ingenious in his com- 
parisons between earthly things and heavenly, we cannot build 
any thing upon them ; there is no particular certainty, much less 
any sacredness in them : but let the same words come out of 
the mouth of God, and we know that the resemblance was in- 
tended from the beginning, and intended to be noticed and 
treasured up by us ; it is therefore very nearly the case of a 
Type properly so called. 

We read, for example, that Christ ** was the True Light, which 
lighteneth every man that cometh into the world." This, per- 
haps, in some part of its sense, might be an image not unlikely 
to have occurred to an earthly orator, and we might have pro- 
fited by it, as expressive and edifying, and there would be an 
end : — but now we are informed by it, that even in the first 
creation of the material light, God had respect to this our spiri- 
tual Light ; the one was designedly formed to be an image of the 
other ; and such an image as believers should recognise, having 
their attention drawn to the resemblance by the Word of God 
Himself. May we not then apply the same term in this case as 
in the former, and may we not say that the Light visible is a 
natural Type of God manifesting Himself by His Son, as Isaac 
on the mountain was an historical Type of our Lord yielding 
Himself to the death of the Cross ? 

(4.) Now if there were in the Book of God but one such image 
taken from the works of nature, it might cause in thoughtful 
minds a serious apprehension, that other cases might exist, of a 
like intended resemblance between the worlds visible and invi- 
sible, though none of them were as yet clearly and expressly 
declared to us. Our natural tendency to express things unseen 
by what we see, would seem to have acquired a real though 

168 Illustrations, hon from a few given Symbols 

§ vii. 5. slight sanction and warrant from above : and we might without 
irreverence begin to speculate (if the word may be used,) on 
other possible associations and mysterious meanings. 

Indeed we should be almost driven to such speculations, in 
the case supposed, of earthly and heavenly Light. The idea of 
Light necessarily implies that of its opposite, Darkness ; and 
naturally, to beings framed and conditioned as we are, it implies 
also the ideas of morning and evening, sun, moon, and stars, 
shadow and sunshine, twilight increasing and decreasing, and 
many others : for all which, many would be inclined to imagine 
counterparts in the spiritual world, after they had been once 
made aware that the Light itself was intended to be typical. 

Now, on further examination of the Scriptures, they would 
find these their anticipations verified. They would find that as 
Light was the regular symbol of Him, by whom the Father is 
manifested, who is God of God, Light of Light, the Word who 
hath declared the Invisible ; so is the Sun in the heavens the 
scriptural token of the Word Incarnate, " coming forth as a 
bridegroom out of His chamber, and rejoicing as a Giant to run 
His course." They would find the condition of the world with- 
out Christ represented as " darkness covering the earth, and 
gross darkness the people ;" the dawnings of His manifestation, 
when incarnate but yet unborn, compared to the morning twilight 
or " dayspring from on high :" and the severe trials and appa- 
rent failures of the faith, which are to be expected even under 
the Gospel dispensation, these they would find compared to an 
evening twilight, endeavouring to prevail, but overcome by the 
Sun which never sets : as we read, *' At evening time there shall 
be light." 

Other passages would show them the Moon as the chosen 
emblem of mortal imperfect human nature, reflecting more or 
less of the Light which flows from Christ, less in the Synagogue, 
more in the Church of the New Testament : and again the stars, 
as lesser lights, Patriarchs, Apostles, Bishops, such as are any 
how employed in turning many to righteousness. Eclipses, 
rainbows, and other phenomena might be added. 

(5.) But if the one idea of light and darkness, with their various 
relations and modifications, were found thus, from beginning to 

we may assign to all Things visible a Mystical Import. 169 

end, allegorized, not by our imaginations, but by Scripture itself; § ^"' "' 
— one might reasonably conclude the like in the case also of the 
other great and leading parts and attributes of the material 
world : one might without presumption infer details and parti- 
culars, where express Scripture gave only the general and com- 
prehensive statement. Thus if we only found the Church called 
generally the Vineyard of the Lord, His pleasant field, and the 
like, we might reason on the processes of cultivation, the marks 
of a good or unwholesome stock, the tokens of wrath and favour ; 
though we nowhere read such parables as those of Isaiah and our 
Lord, developing the idea with authority. 

If one of two contraries were clearly symbolical, the other 
would be understood to be so likewise : if good seed and noble 
vines are God's obedient and accepted ones, there would be no 
need to tell us that weeds and thorns and tares are the cliildren 
of the Wicked One. 

Where two things are by nature inevitably and inseparably 
related to each other, if Scripture give us the spiritual force of 
the one,, it should seem hardly possible to avoid inferring that of 
the other. Thus if God's regenerate ones, taken separately, are 
as good seeds cast into the ground, the loaf which comes of that 
good seed stands naturally for the same persons formed into 
one Church or company ; an imagination proved to be a verity 
by the double offering sanctioned in God's law, first of ears of 
corn, afterwards of consecrated loaves — and this (to anticipate 
another part of our subject) is an example of the manner in 
which God's ancient ritual gives apparent sanction to the symbo- 
lical use of things natural. 

(6.) Now considering to what an extent nature (so to speak,) 
delights in pairs, and groupings, and relations ; how " one thing," 
as the son of Sirach observes, is every where "set against 
another;" how impossible it is to find an object single and un- 
combined with all others, or to limit the extent of the associa- 
tions and connexions, which manifest themselves one after 
another, when we set about tracing any one of the works of 
creation, through all its influences and aspects on the rest ; it 
ought not perhaps to seem over strange, if the symbolical and 

170 Force of the Phrase^ " A new Heaven and a new Earth." 

§ vii. 6. mystical use of any one thing were thought to imply the possi- 
bility at least of a similar use and bearing in all things. 

And this presumption will evidently be strengthened, as the 
instances which Holy Scripture furnishes multiply, and as we 
find, on more and more acquaintance with it, that its typical 
allusions are more developed, and come out on its surface ; as 
stars meet the eye more abundantly, when we continue gazing for 
any time on what seemed at first merely a space of open sky. 
St. Augustin appears to have been particularly gifted with the 
power of discerning this kind of holy imagery. It is really won- 
derful, as one reads his descants, on the Psalms more especially, 
how many allusions he detects and brings out, with more or less 
ingenuity in the particular instance ; so that it must reqiiire, one 
would think, a mind prepossessed altogether with dislike of the 
principle of Mysticism, not to be carried away with him. But 
even without stopping to discern these more latent allusions, it 
should seem that on the very surface of Scripture so many of the 
chief visible objects are invested with spiritual meanings, that to 
affirm the same of the whole world of sense ought not to sound 
too hard a saying. The symbols which are mentioned are almost 
enough to make up between them "a new heaven and a new earth," 
and to complete the proof, that " the first heaven and the first 
earth" are to be regarded, both generally and in their parts, as 
types and shadows of those which are out of sight. 

On this head there appears something instructive in the cir- 
cumstance that the phrase just referred to, "a new heaven and a 
new earth," occurs both in the Old and in the New Testament at 
the very conclusion of a great body of Prophecy ', in the course 
of which tlie imagery of the visible world has been, one may say, 
unreservedly employed to represent the scenes and transactions 
of the invisible one. That is, after the devout mind has been 
accustomed in detail to associations of that kind, comes in the 
most comprehensive phrase that could be employed, apparently 
confirming, by the Creator's authority, the view of creation, thus 
become familiar. Perhaps it adds something to the argument, 

* Isaiah Ixv. 17 ; Rev. xxi. 1. 

Solutions proposed : why generally inadequate. 171 

that in the second instance the phrase occurs within a few sen- § vii. 7, 8. 
tences of the conclusion of the whole Bible. 

(7.) Nominalists however of various classes are ready enough 
with their solutions of these appearances. They say, " it is the 
imperfection of language; the Almighty Himself, condescending 
to employ human words and idioms, could no otherwise convey 
ideas of the spiritual world, than by images and terms taken 
from objects of sense." Or again, " it is the genius of Orien- 
talism : if God vouchsafed to address the men of any particular 
time or country, he would adopt the modes of speech suited to 
that time and country." Or *' the whole is mere poetical orna- 
ment, the vehicle of moral or historical truth, framed to be beau- 
tified and engaging in its kind, in mere indulgence to the infir- 
mity of human nature." 

But as to the particular point in question, would it not be 
enough to say, in answer to all these stateinents together, that 
even if granted in fact, they fail as explanations ? since the 
question would immediately occur, Who made Language, or 
Orientalism, or Poetry, what they respectively are ? Was it not 
One, who knew beforehand that He should adopt them one 
day, as the channel and conveyance of His truth and His will to 
mankind? Surely, reason and piety teach us, that God's provi- 
dence prepared language in general, and especially the languages 
of Holy Scripture, and the human styles of its several writers, 
as fit media through which His supernatural glories and dealings 
might be discerned : and if they be so formed as necessarily to 
give us notions of a certain correspondence between the super- 
natural and the visible, we can hardly help concluding that such 
notions were intended to be formed by us; except there be some 
direct text, or strong analogy of faith, against it. 

(8.) It is not very easy to see what is gained by the very rigorous 
mode of interpretation, which some would apply to the phraseo- 
logy of the Bible. Illustrations, they say, and analogies, are 
never to be pressed a hair's breadth further than the least which 
the context itself, and the turn of the reasoning or sentiment, 
makes absolutely necessary. We must never be contented till 
we have exhausted them, as nearly as possible, of all superna- 

172 Systems merely literal to he suspected: 

§ vii. 9. tural meaning : just as the same people count it an axiom, that 
in historical narratives there must be as tew miracles, and in 
Church ceremonies as few sacraments, as may be. 

These rules hardly approve themselves to natural piety, which 
is ever anxious to trace God as near at hand as it can, 
alike in His words and in His works. Neither do they well 
agree with the manner in which the Old Testament is commented 
on in the New, nor with the sort of expansion and development 
in detail, which subsequent passages not seldom furnish, of an idea 
only just thrown out at first. In short, it seems equally absurd 
to say, on the one hand, that the minimum of mystical sense is 
always to be preferred, as it would be on the other, always to be 
trying to extract as much of it as ever we can : — equally absurd, 
and perhaps not quite so reverential. Surely it will always be a 
question of degree, not so much how far each sensible image 
has some spiritual meaning, as how far we are able to extract 
that meaning with any sort of certainty or satisfaction ; saving, 
as was just now said, the analogy of faith and the truth of other 
Scriptures. Certainly there is no very obvious reason why we 
should incline to the defect, rather than the excess in this 

(9.) Waving, however, these remarks, which would seem to ren- 
der all attempts of the kind nugatory, let us see how the Bible 
imagery will accommodate itself to the particular theories above 
mentioned, of those who would resolve it into mere accidents of 
language. First, if the whole were mere necessity, arising out 
of the imperfection of human speech ; or if it were oriental bold- 
ness of phrase, or poetical ornament ; the symbols would pro- 
bably be more varied than we find them to be ; the same exter- 
nal object would not so constantly occur, to express the same 
invisible thing, through so large a collection of compositions, so 
widely differing in style and tone. As to the imperfection of 
human speech, we all feel every hour how it causes us to modify 
and alter our images : we take the best symbol which occurs at 
the time, but we use it in a kind of resiless, unsatisfied way, like 
persons aware that it is not simply the best ; and by the time we 
need it again, we have lighted very likely on something far truer 

They Jail to explain the Regularity of the Symbols. 173 

and more vivid : and thus, we go on in conversation or in writing, § vii. 10. 
improving or marring our imagery, as the case may be, but still 
letting it be felt that it is by no means fixed and unchangeable. 

Again, as to poetical ornament, variety and versatility of re- 
source is obviously a great ingredient of that sort of excellency : 
to be always resorting to the same similitude or analogy would 
rather of course betray want of skill or power. 

The third solution, that of Orientalism, may seem at first sight 
to be more satisfactory as to this particular circumstance, of the 
same figure constantly repeated. Granting, however, that the 
literature of the Eastern nations is, in some respects, like their 
manners, more fixed and monotonous than ours, and accordingly, 
that it uses to express things out of sight by a certain uniform 
imagery, suggesting the notion of a settled and understood alle- 
gory : yet in the first place, we know not how far this literature 
may have been originally modelled on the Hebrew Scriptures, 
instead of their taking any tone from some previous form 
of it, the very existence of which, after all, is but conjectural. 
Next, such a statement would put in a stronger light the fact of 
that kind of style having been adopted by the Holy Ghost, 
whereby its symbolical words would seem to be raised to the 
rank of Divine Hieroglyphics, so to call them. And thirdly, 
except we suppose such a foundation of truth in them, it seems 
hard to explain the sanction given to them by the writers of the 
New Testament, using as they did a language, and applying them- 
selves (St. Paul and St. Luke especially) to a condition of litera- 
ture and society, well nigh the opposites of what this theory 
supposes to have existed in Asia and the East. 

The fixedness therefore of the Scriptural Imagery does not 
appear to be sufficiently accounted for by any criticism of this 
kind : but it is accounted for, if we suppose the material 
world originally constructed with a view to the sacred analogies 
which tliis symbolical alphabet of Scripture (if we may so deno- 
minate it) suggests. 

(10.) But here an objection occurs, of no small moment. The 
fact may perhaps be denied, that the symbols of Scripture are so 
fixed and regular, as this part of our argument supposes. And the 
authority of St. Augustin may be appealed to, who seems to lay 

174 Account of seeming Varieties in Scripture Imagery : 

vii. 10. down a rule at first sight inconsistent with it. " Because," says he *, 
" there are a variety of ways in which one thing may appear to 
resemble another, we are not to imagine it a set-rule, ' Whatso- 
ever in any one place any thing has stood for in the way of 
simile, that we are always to account its signification.' For the 
image of leaven has been employed by the Lord Himself, both 
in the way of reproof, as when He said, 'Beware of the leaven 
of the Pharisees,' and in the way of praise, when He said, ' The 
Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a woman which hid leaven in 
three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.'" 

And then he proceeds to point out that this variety of symbo- 
lical meaning may be in all degrees. ♦' The same thing may some- 
times stand for contraries, here in a good sense, there in a posi- 
tively bad one, as in the instance just mentioned of leaven ; or 
again, as the lion is the emblem of Christ ; ' The lion of the 
Tribe of Judah hath prevailed :' and it is the emblem also of the 
Devil ; ' He goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may 
devour :' so the serpent, now in a good sense ; ' Be ye wise as 
serpents;' and now in a bad one; 'The serpent beguiled Eve 
through his subtilty :' — Bread, in a good sense ; ' I am the 
living Bread, which came down from Heaven ;' and in a bad one, 
'Bread eaten in secret is pleasant.' And there are many other 

" Now of these which I have mentioned, the signification is not 
doubtful : because, our object being to exemplify, none but clear 
cases could properly be introduced. But there are also some 
whereof it is doubtful what turn we ought to give them : as, ' In 
the hand of the Lord there is a cup of pure wine, full mixed.' 
For here it is doubtful, whether he means the anger of God, 
stopping short of the last penalty, i. e. not exhausted quite to the 
dregs ; or rather, the grace of the Scriptures passing from Jews 
to Gentiles, expressing by Inclinavit ex hoc in hoc : ' He hath 
stooped it away from this side, and entirely towards that :' there 
remaining with the Jews only the outward observances, whereof 
they have but a carnal understanding : and to this purpose may 
be, 'The dregs thereof are not emptied.* 

> De Doctr. Chr. iii. 35. t. iii. pars i. 42. D. 

many Symbols for one Object, and Objects for one Symbol. 175 

"But thirdly," proceeds St. Augustin, "the same thing is §vil. 11. 
sometimes spoken of not absolutely in contrary, but only in 
diverse meanings ; as water signifying both the people : — as we 
read in the Apocalypse, * The waters where the whore sitteth are 
peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues :' and the 
Holy Spirit; whence islhat saying, * Out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water :' and so there may be other things here 
and there, whereof water is understood to be the emblem, accord- 
ing to the context of the places where it occurs." 

Thus far St. Augustin : but when his instances come to be 
examined, it will be found perhaps that his differences of signifi- 
cation may be all reduced to different shades or aspects of the 
same meaning. The Leaven, whether it be bad or good, equally 
represents moral impressions silently communicated from one to 
another ; the Lion represents a royal warrior, the Serpent, one 
who counsels deeply and craftily, be their nature and their cause 
what it may : Bread is that which satisfies the cravings of the 
soul, in its healthy or in its diseased state : Wine in God's Hand 
(the allusion is too sacred to be expressed without fear and hesi- 
tation,) may, consistently with the rest of Holy Scripture, be 
interpreted of the highest and most mysterious of all privileges, 
which is either life or death as men choose to receive it. Of 
water in its several meanings we shall speak presently. 

(11.) But now, if the expression of different objects by the 
same symbol, which St. Augustin thus largely illustrates, is recon- 
cileable with the general uniformity of the scriptural imagery, 
much more the converse of it ; I mean when the same object is 
represented by different symbols. To take the highest and most 
obvious, and also the most freqtient example : our Lord Christ 
in His several offices and relations may be represented by sym- 
bols as different from each other as a Lamb and a Lion, the Sun 
in Heaven and a Vine among trees, a Serpent of brass or a 
Stone cut out of a mountain : and yet no violence be done to 
the harmony (so to call it) of the symbolical language : not only 
because things positively unlike may answer well enough to each 
other in the way of analogy, and so may represent Him in some 
one of His relations ; but also because it is reasonable to think, 

176 St. Auguslin on manifold Meanings in one Scripture : 

yH. 12. that the whole creation can hardly be too large or too various to 
shadow out His manifold aspects, who is all in all to every one 
of His creatures. 

In the greatest possible variety, whether of objects, typified by 
one symbol, or of symbols typifying the same object, there must 
still be substantial uniformity, because all point or converge to- 
wards Him, His work, and His everlasting kingdom : just as all 
languages, however unlike in sound and structure, must be made 
up virtually of the same parts of speech, having to express the 
same mental processes, and the same external world. 

(12.) With regard then to both grounds of scruple, we may thank- 
fully acquiesce in the practical rule of St. Augustin '. " When from 
the same words of Holy Writ not one single meaning, but two or 
more occur to our minds ; though we know not what was in the 
mind of him who wrote the words, there is no danger, if it can 
be shown from other passages of the Holy Scriptures that either 
one of these senses is in harmony with the truth ; provided 
always that the person engaged in searching out the Divine 
Words make this his object, to come at the meaning of the 
author, by whose agency the Holy Ghost wrought out this 
Scripture. Either this, I say, he must attain, or he must frame 
some other meaning out of those words, not opposed to the right 
faith, providing himself with authority from some other portion 
of God's Word. For possibly the author himself saw the same 
meaning in the passage we wish to explain ; and certainly, at 
least, the Spirit of God, who by him composed those words, 
foresaw that it would occur to the reader or hearer ; nay. He 
took care that it should occur, seeing that it also, by hypothesis, 
rests on the truth. For what larger or more abundant provision 
could have been made by Divine care in the authoritative words 
of God, than for the same words to be capable of more accepta- 
tions than one, other sayings no less Divine testifying to the 
same, and demanding our approbation for them ?" 

Thus far St. Augustin ; and it seems well worth consideration, 
whether there be not somewhat in the ordinary experience of 

» De Doct. Chr. iii. 38. 

illustrated by the general Experience of Man. 1 77 

us all, to confirm his view, high and transcendental as it § vii, 13, 
is. Consider how very differently the same words sound in 
our ears, according to our different moods of mind ; how much 
more meaning we find, not only in a text of Scripture, but in a 
chance passage of a book or a stray remark of a friend, when 
we recall it by and by, more seriously than at first we listened to 
it ; nay, and how much beyond what we suspected we discover 
occasionally in our own words, uttered perhaps at first by in- 
stinct, we hardly knew how : so that not only are we always 
uncertain whether any two persons receive exactly the same 
impression — the same moral impression, that is, — from any given 
words, but even whether to the same person the same ideas are 
conveyed by them twice. And yet there is truth and definite 
meaning in the words so spoken, although they go so much 
deeper with one man than they do with another. Surely then it 
ought not to seem strange that the words of the Most High, 
spoken with full knowledge of the thoughts of all who should 
read or hear them, should be intended to give out more or less 
of signification according to our preparation of heart ; and that, 
in that sense, their meanings should be even infinite in number 
and variety. It is only the fact which our own experience sug- 
gests, applied to the case of those sayings which are inspired. 

Again ; we know well that our good and serious moods are 
those, in which we most surpass ourselves in our apprehension 
of deep and grave sayings ; and what is this in effect, but St. 
Augustin's remark, " That practice strengthened by the exercise 
of piety — usus pietatis exercitatione rohoratus — will greatly aid 
us in coming to a true signification?" Well is it for those, who 
are able to confirm this, from the help which they have found in 
pure imaginations, and rightly tuned affections, rather than con- 
trariwise, from the hindrance they have brought on themselves by 
indulging base and frivolous fancies. But in one way or the 
other, we must all more or less have experienced it. 

(13.) Further, one may conceive a person arguing, that this view 
is dangerous and apt to unsettle foundations, making all doctrines 
subjective rather than objective ; true to the individual, not true 

VOL. VI. — 89. N 

178 The Creeds guard the Allegory against doctrinal Abuse. 

§ vii. 13. in themselves. There is obviously danger of this ; but here too 
the experience we have appealed to will help us. Great as the in- 
terval may be between one man and another in their understanding 
of a given passage, — or between our own ordinary perception of 
it, and that which we enjoy when our thoughts are most elevated 
and refined, — yet these variations are all within certain limits : 
the imagery tends all in the same general direction, though some 
go never so much deeper, higher, ^der, than others : just as we 
do not question the real significancy of words, or the existence 
of coloured objects, because we are not sure that the shades of 
meaning or of colour are quite the same to any two different 
minds. The Catholic Faith, the Mind of Christ testified by His 
universal Church, limits the range of symbolical interpretation 
both in Scripture and in nature : the Protestant watchword, 
Verhum Dei, must be made primitive by the constant addition, 
Verhum Deus : or, as St. Augustin again expresses it, " We that 
are made the Body of Christ, let us not fail to recognize our 
own voice in the Psalms and other Scriptures :" our own voice, 
because it is the Voice of Him in whom we are all made one. 
" Christ," he proceeds, " wheresoever in those Books, where- 
soever in those Scriptures I am journeying and panting for 
breath, in that sweat of our face which is part of our sentence 
as men, — Christ is there, openly or secretly to meet and refresh 
me. It is He Himself, who, by the very diflficulty which I some- 
times have in finding Him, inflames my longing, so that what I 
do find of His I may eagerly suck in, and retain to my soul's 
health, absorbed in my very joints and marrow." And, " In 
reading the Scriptures, he only, who finds no pleasure in these 
holy manifestations of Christ, is turned unto fables, not enduring 
sound doctrine." In other words, the analogy of faith, Christ 
set before us in the Creeds of the Church, will give a fixedness 
and reality to our symbolical interpretations, how wide soever in 
other respects the latitude and variety which seems to be allowed 
in them. 

It need only just be mentioned, that the apparent double or 
manifold senses of a great portion of the Prophecies, and the 

Complexity of the Scripture Symbols; exemplified. 179 

manner in wliich the New Testament generally accommodates, § vii. 14. 
as it is called, texts from the Old, obviously harmonize with 
what has been advanced out of St. Augustin on this head. 

(14. ) Closely connected with this topic, of i\\e fixedness of the 
sacred symbols, is what may be called their complexity ; the manner 
in which, not seldom, the primary and simple ones among them 
are varied and combined, as letters are combined into syllables, 
words, and sentences, retaining each somewhat of their original 
sound : or rather, as those compound derivatives which are made 
up of significant terms, each term modified, not changed, in its 
import. To take an example, than which none can be more holy 
and venerable, none, as it may seem, more unquestionable. The 
appropriate symbol of the Holy Spirit is, as the name implies. 
Breath — the Breath of the Father and the Son, omnipresent, 
all powerful : and hence it is sometimes represented by the air 
or wind, as in our Lord's well known words to Nicodemus, and 
when the disciples on the day of Pentecost heard a sudden sound 
as of a rushing mighty wind ; and His function as the Lord and 
Giver of Life is represented by the gift of respiration to living 
things. " God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life, 
and man became a living soul ;" and " when He letteth His 
breath go forth, they are made ; and He reneweth the face of the 

But breath has not only in it air, but moisture ; and this con- 
densed is first clouds, then drops of rain, then water gushing out 
in springs, or flowing in rivers ; or in a way of approach yet 
more silent and invisible, dew : and all these are scriptural 
emblems of the Holy Spirit in Its several aspects and rela- 
tions. The overshadowing and guiding cloud, in which, as 
well as in the Red Sea, the Israelites were baptized unto Moses, 
was a token, we know from St. Paul, of the descent of the rege- 
nerating Spirit of Christ, with a hovering, brooding motion, like 
that of a dove, first on our Lord Himself, then on each of His 
Members at their baptism : its appearing over the Tabernacle 
in glory, and filling both it and the Temple, prefigured the 
warmth and brightness of the heavenly Comforter, difFusing 
Itself over the whole Church at once, and entering into every 

N 2 

180 The Symbols of the Holy Spirit various yet uniform. 

§ vii. 14. corner of the new-born soul : the descent of a cloud in rain or 
dew, is the Spirit communicating Himself in gifts and sanctifying 
graces ; becoming (if one may so speak,) water for the nourish- 
ment of our souls, as He was air to give them life ; according to 
that verse in the Psalm, *' Thou, O Lord, sentest a gracious rain 
upon Thine inheritance, and refreshedst it when it was weary :" 
and it may be that the express words of the Holy Ghost are 
compared to distinct drops of rain, and His silent promptings to 
the dews, more aerial and impalpable. So Moses, '* My doc- 
trine," my set and formal instructions, " shall drop as the rain ; 
my speech," my incidental hints and whispers, *' shall distil as 
the dew." 

The fountains again and depths of pure water, gushing out for 
our purification and refreshment, how or from whence we know 
not, except that we are sure they are originally derived from 
above, — these are the Holy Ghost in His larger communica- 
tions of baptismal, sacramental grace ; opening fountains in the 
hard dry heart of man, which seem to belong to it, but are en- 
tirely the gatherings of His rain. And this image is kept up 
even to the final description of the Church's glory ; where, as 
it should seem, the goings forth of the Comforter are typified 
by " a pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne 
of God and of the Lamb," with the Tree of Life growing beside 
it for the healing and quickening of the nations. And indeed 
all that is said in every part of the Scriptures, concerning the 
righteous as trees of the Lord's planting, the Church as His 
vineyard, the wicked as corrupt and wild plants, — in itself one of 
the plainest and most abundant of all the sources of scriptural 
parables, — combines wonderfully well with the thought of air and 
water, as emblems of the life-giving, sanctifying Breath of the 
Most High. 

On the other hand, as the Breath of God thus becomes water, 
to cherish, and refresh, and cleanse those souls which have 
not forfeited the Divine Life, so in Its severer influences, 
either to purify or consume, (for purgation is partial consuming,) 
It becomes fire from heaven : first to try, and prove, and 
refine, every man's work here ; next, utterly to destroy and 

Complex Imagery sanctioned by our Lord and Si. Paul. 1^1 

waste what shall be found vile and refuse hereafter. Thus He § vii. 15. 
who is a consuming fire, and who had so shown Himself on 
Mount Sinai, and on so many other occasions when the ungodly 
were to perish at His presence ; He made His coming known by 
cloven tongues like as of fire, when that flame was to be kindled 
which Christ came to send upon the earth : and we have an 
awful notice given, that it is " the Breath of the Lord,'* which 
" as a stream of brimstone, kindles" the fire which is *' ordained 
of old" and " prepared for the deviland his angels." 

Thus remarkably does the one idea of the Breath of the Lord, 
followed up and variously combined with others, explain almost 
all the principal symbols used in Scripture to denote the influ- 
ences and operations of the Holy Spirit of God. Surely the 
Ancient Church was justified in thinking that analogies, so uni- 
formly kept up, and at the same time so elaborate and complex, 
were intended for something beyond mere poetical ornament. 
When, with hearts and memories full of Scripture, they looked 
out on Nature and her operations, they could not but be con- 
scious that the lessons which they had read and heard were 
perpetually coming before them in what they saw : and how 
was it possible for them to help believing that the association 
was providential and divine ; they who were accustomed to 
behold God's hand in far lesser and more ordinary things ? 

(15.) Besides, they found this kind of correspondence repeatedly 
taken for granted and reasoned on in the Holy Scripture itself. 
Did they not see how St. Paul works out in the minutest detail 
the notion of the Church being the Body of Christ ? how he 
teaches us to deduce from it our every day duties and relations to 
each other? And could they doubt that all this was intended, 
in the first formation of the human body, by Him who caused 
all things to be tor the Church's sake ? In these analogies 
unfolded by St. Paul, and still more strikingly in our Lord's 
Parables, they would perceive the principle sanctioned, and the 
means aflbrded, of spiritualizing all the chief objects and pro- 
cesses of which common life, and the world of sense, are made 
up : and they would think themselves justified in reverently 
carrying on these analogies, according to their skill, to other 
points of detail, not expressly mentioned in Scripture. 

182 Specimen of complex Imagery from the Canticles : 

§ vii. 15. As an example, take St. Augustin's comment on an exquisite 
pastoral image in the Song of Solomon. He is not, observe, rea- 
soning in proof of our principle, — that was always taken for granted 
by the Fathers, — but he is descanting on the beauty and useful- 
ness of it. " Why," he asks S " is the hearer less delighted, 
when he is told literally of holy and perfect men, whose life and 
conduct are the means, whereby Christ's Church separates those 
who come to her from all superstitions, and unites them, 
imitating the good which they see, to her own body, which same 
good and faithful and true servants of God have cast off the 
burthens of the world, and have drawn near to the Holy Laver of 
Baptism, and going up from thence, are now, through the quick- 
ening Spirit, bearing the fruit of both kinds of love, the love of 
God and of our neighbour : — why is it, 1 say, that the literal 
statement of these things affords less satisfaction to the hearer, 
than if one expound to the same effect that verse in the Song of 
Songs, where it is said to the Church, receiving praise under the 
similitude of a beautiful woman, ' Thy teeth are like a flock of 
sheep even shorn, which are gone up from the washing, which 
every one of them bear twins, and there is none barren among 
them V Certainly the instruction one receives is in substance no 
more, than in listening to the former statement, made as it was 
in the most literal words, without the support of this similitude. 
And yet there is, I know not how, an additional pleasure in 
contemplating those saints, when I see them, quasi denies Ecclesice, 
cutting off men from their native errors, and transferring them 
in a manner into the substance of her body, divided into morsels, 
and champed, and their Hardness mollified. Again, I recognize 
with great delight the sheep newly shorn, their earthly burthens, 
as fleeces, deposited, and going up from the bath, i. e., from 
baptism. I see how they all bring forth twins, the two com- 
mandments, namely, of love ; and not one of them is barren of 
that holy fruit." 

This, it will be observed, is produced by St. Augustin himself 
as a specimen of the mode of interpretation, which the Church 
in his time received undoubtingly, as the true mind of the 

> De Doctr. Christ, ii. 7- 


Our Lord's Proverbs : The Mosaic Ritual. 183 

Spirit : and whatever may be thought of the particular instance, § vii. 16, 17. 
many will feel that there is both piety and probability in such a 
mode of using the riches of Scripture and of Nature, mutually 
to illustrate and bring out each other ; and will see in this eager 
profuse way of heaping simile upon simile, something not un- 
like St. Paul's own manner of passing rapidly, even in the 
gravest arguments, from one analogy to another more or less 
connected with it : as from the seed changed in the ground to 
the difference between earthly bodies and heavenly ; and again, 
from the unequal magnitude of the stars to the inequality of the 
Saints in glory. There is no discrepancy between the tone of 
the Apostles and that of the Church in after ages, in respect of 
their both assuming, clearly and deliberately, a certain corre- 
spondence, intended by the Creator, between the material and 
spiritual worlds. 

(16.) Something perhaps is added to this argument by the 
manner in which our Lord's own example teaches us to take up 
and use proverbial sayings. " Lift up your eyes and look unto 
the fields, for they are white already unto the harvest ;" " If they 
do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?" 
By instructing His disciples to affix a divine sense, an inter- 
pretation connected with the things of His kingdom, to familiar 
household words such as these. He seems to sanction the idea, 
that there is perhaps nothing so low and trivial in our ordinary 
life, but a spiritual and heavenly meaning may be found for it. 
And further. He seems to hint to us, that this correspondence of 
things seen with unseen, is by no means so high and transcen- 
dental a matter, but that it may well be set before the minds even 
of very simple uneducated Christians — the class which is most 
apt to be attracted by proverbs, and to use them frequently. 

(17.) Another, and a yet more direct sanction appears to be 
afforded by the large use of material signs for spiritual objects and 
processes in the inspired Mosaic Ritual. The whole of that Ritual 
served, we know, to the example and shadow of heavenly things; 
it was made and ordered according to the pattern showed to 
Moses in the Mount. Here, therefore, were no inconsiderable 
number of visible materials, forms, and actions, concerning 

1 84 Nature allegorized by Scripture, the Ritual and Historical : 

■ vii. 18, 19. which the Fathers \inew for certain that they were intended to 
express heavenly things, — that their archetypes, so to speak, 
existed in the Mount. By reference to these they might prove 
and check, as it were, the conclusions to which they had come 
in other ways, whether by instinct, or obscure tradition, or ex- 
amination of scriptural imagery in general, regarding the symbo- 
lical meaning of external objects. If they had been led, for 
example, to conjecture that certain animals— the lamb, the dove, 
the ox, the goat, and the like — were types, or tokens, in nature, 
of certain spiritual beings or truths: they would be confirmed in 
such their conjecture by the use of those animals, or their images, 
in the worship and furniture of the Tabernacle. The like may be 
said of plants — the palm, the cedar, the hyssop, and others ; of 
colours, such as white, purple, and scarlet ; of materials, linen and 
woollen ; metals and precious stones : the use of any such thing 
in the divinely ordained ritual would give a new and heavenly 
significance to any mention of it which might occur in Isaiah and 
the Psalms, and both together would set it apart for ever, in the 
judgment of affectionate and imaginative minds, as a natural 
symbol or sacrament of something out of sight. 

(18.) The historical Scriptures too would often furnish addi- 
tional presumptions to the sameefFect, by the recorded use of certain 
materials and forms, — the material of wood for instance, and the 
form of the Cross, — in God's miraculous and providential deal- 
ings. Indeed, so many and so clear are the correspondencies in 
this kind, that there have not been wanting ingenious writers, 
both in ancient and modern times, who have explained particular 
parts, both of the ritual and history, such as the forms of the 
Tabernacle and Temple, and the construction of the Ark, as phy- 
sical allegories, designed to represent the system of the world, or 
the frame of the human body : theories seemingly too wild and 
strange to be maintained by men of learning and piety, but 
accounted for, if we may be allowed to suppose that both the 
history or ritual on the one hand, and the system of the world 
or of the body on the other, are separate sets of visible symbols 
shadowing out invisible truths. 

(19.) There is one way more, and a very obvious one, in which 

and by the Explanations of them in the New Testament. 1 85 

the consideration of the Ritual and History miglit confirm the early § vii. 20. 
Christians in their mystical explanations of the whole external 
world. They found some particulars, both ritual and historical, 
mystically expounded in the New Testament, and plain im« 
plications, almost assertions, that the whole was capable of 
similar exposition : e. g. that " Moses made all things accord- 
ing to the pattern shewed him in the Mount ;" and that " all 
that befel God's people in the wilderness happened unto them as 
types of us." When therefore in the natural world they had 
ascertained a few chief symbols, it was reasonable for them to 
infer that these too were but specimens, single chords of a har- 
mony to be fully made out hereafter; they would feel like 
learners of a language, who have picked up the meaning as yet 
but of a few words here and there, but have no doubt whatever 
that the whole has its meaning : and perhaps they would think 
that they found warrant for this in such texts as that of St. Paul 
to the Romans, *' The invisible things of Him from the creation 
of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that 
are made." This would seem to lay down the principle or canon 
of mystical interpretation for the works of Nature, as the other 
texts, just now specified, for the Mosaic ceremonies and the 
history of the Jews. 

(20.) So much for the direct encouragement given in the Bible to 
the symbolical use of things natural. There is, as was mentioned 
above, another indirect yet real presumption to the same effect, 
which at present can only just be adverted to, and that is, the 
studied preference of poetical forms of thought and language, as 
the channel of supernatural knowledge to mankind. Poetry, traced 
as high up as we can go, may almost seem to be God's gift from the 
beginning, vouchsafed to us for this very purpose : at any rate 
the fact is unquestionable, that it was the ordained vehicle of 
Revelation, until God Himself was made manifest in the flesh. 
And since the characteristic tendency of poetical minds is to 
make the world of sense, from beginning to end, symbolical of 
the absent and unseen, any instance of divine favour shewn to 
Poetry, any divine use of it in the training of God's people, 

VOL. VI. — 89. o 

180 Favour shewn to Poetry, an indirect Sanction to Mysticism. 

§ vii. 20. would seem, as far as it goes, to warrant that tendency ; to set 
God's seal upon it, and witness it as reasonable and true. 

Much might be said on this head : but it is enough now to 
have just indicated it, as one among the many reasons for think- 
ing that Christian Antiquity was far more scriptural, than at first 
we might be apt to imagine, as in many other things, so in the 
deep mystical import, which it unreservedly attributes to the 
whole material world, and to all parts of it. 

(To be continued.) 


These Tracts are published in Numbers, and sold at the price of 
2d, for each sheet, or 7s. for bO copies. 


ST. Paul's church yard, and waterlog place. 


Gilbert & Rivinoton, Printers, St John's Square, London. 

The following Works, all in single volumes, or pamphlets, and 
recently published, will be found more or less to uphold or eluci- 
date the general doctrines inculcated in these Tracts : — 

Bp. Taylor on Repentance, by Hale. — Rivingtons. 

Bp. Taylor's Golden Grove. — Parker, Oxford. 

Vincentii Lirinensis Commonitorium, with translation. — Par- 
ker, Oxford. 

Pusey on Cathedrals and Clerical Education. — Roake 8^ Varty. 

Hook's University Sermons. — Talboys, Oxford. 

Pusey on Baptism (published separately). — Rivingtons. 

Newman's Sermons, 6 vols. — Rivingtons. 

Newman on Romanism, &c. — Rivingtons. 

The Christian Year. — Parker, Oxford. 

Lyra Apostolica. — Rivingtons. 

Perceval on the Roman Schism. — Leslie. 

Bishop Jebb's Pastoral Instructions. — Duncan. 

Dodsworth's Lectures on the Church. — Burns. 

Cary on the Apostolical Succession. — Rivingtons. 

Newman on Suffragan Bishops. — Rivingtons. 

Keble's Sermon on National Apostasy. — Rivingtons. 

Keble's Sermon on Tradition. — Rivingtons. 

Memoir of Ambrose Bonwick. — Parker, Oxford. 

Hymns for Children on the Lord's Prayer. — Rivingtons. 

Law's first and second Letters to Hoadly. — Rivingtons. 

Bp. Andrews' Devotions. Latin and Greek. — Pickering. 

Hook's Family Prayers. — Rivingtons. 

Herbert's Poems and Country Pastor. 

Evans's Scripture Biography. — Rivingtons. 

Le Bas' Life of Archbishop Laud. — Rivingtons. 

Jones (of Nayland) on the Church. 

Bp. Bethell on Baptismal Regeneration. — Rivingtons. 

Bp. Beveridge's Sermons on the Ministry and Ordinances. — 
Parker, Oxford. 

Bp. Jolly on the Eucharist. 

Fulford's Sermons on the Ministry, &c. — Rivingtons. 
Rose's Sermons on the Ministry. — Rivingtons. 
A Catechism on the Church. — Parker, Oxford. 
Russell's Judgment of the Anglican Church. — Baily. 
Poole's Sermons on the Creed. — Grant, Edinburgh. 
Sutton on the Eucharist. — Parker, Oxford. 
Leslie on the Regale and Pontificate. — Leslie. 
Pusey's Sermon on November 5. — Rivingtons. 
Bishop Wilson's Sacra Privata. — Parker, Oxford. 
The Cathedral, a Poem. — Do. 
Palmer's Ecclesiastical History. — Burns. 

Larger Works which may be profitably studied. 

Bishop Bull's Sermons. — Parker, Oxford. 

Bishop Bull's Works. — University Press. 

Waterland's Works. — Do. 

Wall on Infant Baptism. — Do. 

Pearson on the Creed. — Do, 

Leslie's Works. — Do. 

Bingham's Works.— Straker, London. 

Palmer on the Liturgy. — University Press. 

Palmer on the Church. — Rivingtons. 

Hooker, ed. Keble. — Do. 

No. dO.^ 



[The corrections in the Second Edition are put in brackets.] 



Introduction 2 

5 1. Articles vi. & xx. — Holy Scripture, and the Authority of 

the Church 5 

§ 2. Article xi. — Justification by Faith only . . . .12 
§ 3. Articles xii. & xiii. — Works before and after Justification 14 

§ 4. Article xix.— The Visible Church 17 

§ 5. Article xxi. — General Councils 21 

§ 6. Article xxii. — Purgatory, Pardons, Images, Relics, Invo- 
cation of Saints 22 

§ 7. Article xxv. — The Sacraments . . . . .45 

§ 8, Article xxviii. — Transubstantiation . . . .49 

§ 9. Article xxxi. — Masses 61 

§ 10. Article xxxii. — Marriage of Clergy . . . .67 

§ 11. Article XXXV. — ^The Homilies 69 

§ 12. Article xxxvii. — The Bishop of Rome . . . ..80 

Conclusion 83 


It is often urged, and sometimes felt and granted, that 
there are in the Articles propositions or terms inconsistent 
with the Catholic faith ; or, at least, when persons do not 
go so far as to feel the objection as of force, they are per- 
plexed how best to reply to it, or how most simply to ex- 
plain the passages on which it is made to rest. The follow- 
ing Tract is drawn up with the view of showing how 
groundless the objection is, and further of approximating 
towards the argumentative answer to it, of which most men 
have an implicit apprehension, though they may have 
nothing more. That there are real difficulties to a Catholic 
Christian in the Ecclesiastical position of our Church at 
this day, no one can deny; but the statements of the 
Articles are not in the number ; and it may be right at the 
present moment to insist upon this. If in any quarter it 
is supposed that persons who profess to be disciples of the 
early Church will silently concur with those of very opposite 
sentiments in furthering a relaxation of subscriptions, which, 
it is imagined, are galling to both parties, though for 
different reasons, and that they will do this against the wish 
of the great body of the Church, the writer of the following 
pages would raise one voice, at least, in protest against any 
such anticipation. Even in such points as he may think the 
English Church deficient, never can he, without a great 
alteration of sentiment, be party to forcing the opinion or 
project of one school upon another. Religious changes, to 
be beneficial, should be the act of the whole body; they 
are worth little if they are the mere act of a majority*. No 

' This is not meant to hinder acts of Catholic consent, such as 

Introduction. S 

good can come of any change which is not heartfelt, a 
development of feelings springing up freely and calmly within 
the bosom of the whole body itself. Moreover, a change 
in theological teaching involves either the commission or the 
confession of sin; it is either the profession or renunciation 
of erroneous doctrine, and if it does not succeed in proving 
the fact of past guilt, it, ipso facto, implies present. In 
other words, every change in religion carries with it its own 
condemnation, which is not attended by deep repentance. 
Even supposing then that any changes in contemplation, 
whatever they were, were good in themselves, they would 
cease to be good to a Church, in which they were the fruits 
not of the quiet conviction of all, but of the agitation, or 
tyranny, or intrigue of a few ; nurtured not in mutual love, 
but in strife and envying ; perfected not in humiliation and 
grief, but in pride, elation, and triumph. Moreover, it is a 
very serious truth, that persons and bodies who put them- 
selves into a disadvantageous state, cannot at their pleasure 
extricate themselves from it. They are unworthy of it; 
they are in prison, and Christ is the keeper. There is but 
one way towards a real reformation, — a return to Him in 
heart and spirit, whose sacred truth they have betrayed; all 
other methods, however fair they may promise, will prove 
to be but shadows and failures. 

On these grounds, were there no others, the present 
writer, for one, will be no party to the ordinary political 
methods by which professed reforms are carried or com- 
passed in this day. We can do nothing well till we act " with 
one accord;"" we can have no accord in action till we agree 
together in heart ; we cannot agree without a supernatural 
influence; we cannot have a supernatural influence unless 
we pray for it ; we cannot pray acceptably without repent- 
ance and confession. Our Church's strength would be 
irresistible, humanly speaking, were it but at unity with 
itself: if it remains divided, part against part, we shall see 

occurred anciently, when the Catholic body aids one portion of a par- 
ticular Church against another portion. 

B 2 

"4 Introduction. 

the energy which was meant to subdue the world preying 
upon itself, according to our Saviour's express assurance, 
that such a house " cannot stand." Till we feel this, till we 
seek one another as brethren, not lightly throwing aside our 
private opinions, which we seem to feel we have received 
from above, from an ill-regulated, untrue desire of unity, but 
returning to each other in heart, and coming together to 
God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, no 
change can be for the better. Till [we] [her children] are 
stirred up to this religious course, let the Church'^, [our 
Mother,] sit still ; let [us] be content to be in bondage ; 
let [us] work in chains ; let [us] submit to [our] imper- 
fections as a punishment ; let [us] go on teaching [through 
the medium of indeterminate statements '] and inconsistent 
precedents, and principles but partially developed. We are 
not better than our fathers ; let us bear to be what Ham- 
mond was, or Andrews, or Hooker ; let us not faint under 
that body of death, which they bore about in patience; 
nor shrink from the penalty of sins, which they inherited 
from the age before them *. 

But these remarks are beyond our present scope, which 
is merely to show that, while our Prayer Book is acknow- 
ledged on all hands to be of Catholic origin, our Articles 
also, the offspring of an uncathoHc age, are, through God's 
good providence, to say the least, not uncatholic, and may 

' " Let the Church sit still ; let her be content to be in bondage," 
&c. — 1st edition. [The author has lately heard that these words have 
been taken as spoken in an insulting and reproachful tone ; he meant 
them in the sense of the lines in the Lyra Apostolica, — 
" Bide thou thy time ! 
Watch with meek eyes the race of pride and crime: 
Sit in the gatj and be the heathen's jest, 
Smiling and self-possest," &c. — 3rd edition.] 
' "With the stammering lips." — 1st edition. 

* " We, Thy sinful creatures," says the Service for King Charles the 
Martyr, " here assembled before Thee, do, in behalf of all the people 
of this land, humbly confess, that they were the crying sins of this 
nation, which brought down this judgment upon us," i. e. King 
Charles's murder. 

Holy Scripture and the Authority of the Church. 5 

be subscribed by those who aim at being catholic in heart 
and doctrine. In entering upon the proposed examination, 
it is only necessary to add, that in several places the writer 
has found it convenient to express himself in language 
recently used, which he is willing altogether to make his 
own*. He has distinguished the passages introduced by 
quotation marks. 

§ \.—Holy Scripture and the Authority of the Church. 

Articles vi. & xx. — " Holy Scripture containeth all things 
necessary to salvation ; so that whatsoever is not read 
therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of 
any man, that it should be believed as an article of the 
Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. 

The Church hath [power to decree (statuendi) 

rites and ceremonies, and] authority in controversies of 
faith ; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to [ordain 
(instituere) any thing that is contrary to God'^s word written, 
neither may it] so expound one place of Scripture, that it be 
repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be 
a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet [as it ought not 
to decree (decernere) any thing against the same, so] besides 
the same, ought it not to enforce (obtrudere) any thing to 
be believed for necessity of salvation *." 

Two instruments of Christian teaching arc spoken of in 
these Articles, Holy Scripture and the Church. 

Here then we have to inquire, first, what is meant by 
Holy Scripture ; next, what is meant by the Church ; and 
then, what their respective offices are in teaching revealed 
truth, and how these are adjusted with one another in their 
actual exercise. 

» [The passages quoted are the auth(»'8 own writing on other 

' The passages in brackets (all) relate to rites and ceremonies which 
are not here in question. [From brackets marking the Second Edition, 
must be excepted those which occur in quotations.] 

6 Holy Scripture and the Authority oftJte Church. 

1 . Now what the Church is, will be considered below in 
Section 4. 

2. And the Books of Holy Scripture are enumerated in 
the latter part of the Article, so as to preclude question. 
Still two points deserve notice here. 

First, the Scriptures or Canonical Books are said to be 
those "of whose authority was never any doubt in the 
Church.*" Here it is not meant that there never was any 
doubt in portions of the CJhurch or particular Churches 
concerning certain books, which the Article includes in the 
Canon ; for some of them, — as, for instance, the Epistle to 
the Hebrews and the Apocalypse — have been the subject of 
much doubt in the West or East, as the case may be. But 
the Article asserts that there has been no doubt about them 
in the Church Catholic ; that is, at the very first time that 
the Catholic of whole Church had the opportunity of form- 
ing a judgment on the subject, it pronounced in favour of 
the Canonical Books. The Epistle to the Hebrews was 
doubted by the West, and the Apocalypse by the East, 
only while those portions of the Church investigated sepa- 
rately from each other, only till they compared notes, inter- 
changed sentiments, and formed a united judgment. The 
phrase must mean this, because, from the nature of the case, 
it can mean nothing else. 

And next, be it observed, that the books which are com- 
monly called Apocrypha, are not asserted in this Article to 
be destitute of inspiration or to be simply human, but to be 
not Canonical ; in other words, to differ from Canonical 
Scripture, specially in this respect, viz. that they are not 
adducible in proof of doctrine. " The other books (as 
Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life 
and instruction of manners, but yet doth not apply them to 
establish any doctrine.'''' That this is the limit to which our 
disparagement of them extends, is plain, not only because 
the Article mentions nothing beyond it, but also from the 
reverential manner in which the Homilies speak of them, as 
shall be incidentally shown in Section 11. [The compatibility 
of such reverence with such disparagement is also shown 

Holy Scripture and the Authority of the Church. 7 

from the feeling towards them of St. Jerome, who is quoted 
in the Article, who implies more or less their inferiority to 
Canonical Scripture, yet uses them freely and continually, 
as if Scripture. He distinctly names many of the books 
which he considers not canoifical, and virtually names them 
all by naming what are canonical. For instance, he says, 
speaking of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, " As the Church 
reads Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, without receiving 
them among the Canonical Scriptures, so she reads these 
two books fpr the edification of the people, not for the 
confirmation of the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines." 
{Prof, in Lihr. Salom.) Again, "The Wisdom, as it is 
commonly styled, of Solomon, and the book of Jesus son of 
Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd, are not 
in the Canon." [Prcef. ad Reges.) Such is the language 
of a writer who nevertheless is, to say the least, not wanting 
in reverence towards the books he thus disparages.] 

A further question may be asked, concerning our received 
version of the Scriptures, whether it is in any sense imposed 
on us as a true comment on the original text ; as the Vulgate 
is upon the Roman Catholics. It would appear not. It 
was made and authorized by royal command, which cannot 
be supposed to have any claim upon our interior consent. 
At the same time every one who reads it in the Services of 
the Church, does, of course, thereby imply that he considers 
that it contains no deadly heresy or dangerous mistake. 
And about its simplicity, majesty, gravity, harmony, and 
venerableness, there can be but one opinion. 

3. Next we come to the main point, the adjustment 
which this Article effects between the respective offices of 
the Scripture and Church ; which seems to be as follows. 

It is laid down that, 1. Scripture contains all necessary 
articles of the faith ; 2. either in its text, or by inference 
8. The Church is the keeper of Scripture ; 4. and a witness 
of it ; 5. and has authority in controversies of faith ; 6. but 
may not expound one passage of Scripture to contradict 
another ; 7. nor enforce as an article of faith any point not 
contained in Scripture. 

8 Holy Scripture and t/ie Authority of the Church. 

From this it appears, first, that the Church expounds and 
enforces the faith ; for it is forbidden to expound in a parti- 
cular way, or so to enforce as to obtrude ; next, that it 
derives the faith wholly from Scripture ; thirdly, that its 
office is to educe an harmonious interpretation of Scripture. 
Thus much the Article settles. 

Two important questions, however, it does not settle, viz. 
whether the Church judges, first, at her sole discretion; 
next, on her sole responsibility ; i. e. first, what the media 
are by which the Church interprets Scripture, whether by a 
direct divine gift, or catholic tradition, or critical exegesis 
of the text, or in any other way ; and next, who is to decide 
whether it interprets Scripture rightly or not ; — what is her 
method, if any ; and who is her judge, if any. In other 
words, not a word is said, on the one hand, in favour of 
Scripture having no rule or method to fix interpretation by, 
or, as it is commonly expressed, being the sole rule of faith ; 
nor on the other, of the private judgment of the individual 
being the ultimate standard of interpretation. So much 
has been said lately on both these points, and indeed on the 
whole subject of these two Articles, that it is unnecessary 
to enlarge upon them ; but since it is often supposed to be 
almost a first principle of our Church, that Scripture is " the 
rule of faith," it may be well, before passing on, to make an 
extract from a paper, published some years since, which 
shows, by instances from our divines, that the application of 
the phrase to Scripture is but of recent adoption. The 
other question, about the ultimate judge of the interpreta- 
tion of Scripture, shall not be entered upon. 

" We may dispense with the phrase ' Rule of Faith,"" as 
applied to Scripture, on the ground of its being ambiguous ; 
and, again, because it is then used in a novel sense ; for the 
ancient Church made the Apostolic Tradition, as summed 
up in the Creed, and not the Bible, the Begula Fidei, or 
Rule. Moreover, its use as a technical phrase, seems to be 
of late introduction in the Church, that is, since the days 
of King William the Third. Our great divines use it with- 
out any fixed sense, sometimes for Scripture, sometimes for 

Holy Scripture and the Authority of the Church. 9 

the whole and perfectly adjusted Christian doctrine, some- 
times for the Creed ; and at the risk of being tedious, we 
will prove this, by quotations, that the point may be put 
beyond dispute. 

*' Ussher, after St. Austin, identifies it with the Creed ; 
— when speaking of the Article of our Lord's Descent to 
Hell, he says, — 

" ' It having here likewise been further manifested, what different 
opinions have been entertained by the ancient Doctors of the Church, 
concerning the determinate place wherein our Saviour's soul did re- 
main during the time of the separation of it from the body, I leave it 
to be considered by the learned, whether any such controverted matter 
may fitly be brought in to expound the Rule cf Faith, which, being 
common both to the great and small ones of the Cliurch, must contain 
such varieties only as are generally agreed upon by the common con- 
sent of all true Christians.' — Anstver to a Jesuit, p. 362. 

" Taylor speaks to the same purpose : ' Let us see with 
what constancy that and the following ages of the Church 
did adhere to the Apostles'* Creed, as the sufficient and 
perfect Rule of Faith.'' — Dissuasive, part 2, i. 4, p. 470. 
Elsewhere he calls Scripture the Rule : ' That the Scripture 
is a full and sufficient Rule to Christians in faith and 
manners, a full and perfect declaration of the Will of God, 
is therefore certain, because we have no other."" — Ibid, part 
2, i. 2, p. 384. Elsewhere, Scripture and the Creed : ' He 
hath, by His wise Providence, preserved the plain places of 
Scripture and the Apostles"* Creed, in all Churches, to be 
the Rule and Measure of Faith, by which all Churches are 
saved."* — Ibid, part 2, i. 1, p. 346. Elsewhere he identifies 
it with Scripture, the Creeds, and the first four Councils : 
' VVe also [after Scripture] do believe the Apostles"" Creed, 
the Nicene, with the additions of Constantinople, and that 
which is commonly called the symbol of St. Athanasius; 
and the four first General Councils are so entirely admitted 
by us. that they, together with the plain words of Scripture, 
are made the Rule and Measure of judging heresies among 
us."" — Ibid, part 1, i. p. 131. 

" Laud calls the Creed, or rather the Creed with Scrip- 

10 Iloly Scripture and the Authority of the Church. 

ture, the Rule. ' Since the Fathers make the Creed the 
Rule of Faith ; since the agreeing sense of Scripture with 
those Articles are the Two Regular Precepts, by which a 
divine is governed about his faith,' &c. — Conference with 
Fisher, p. 42. 

" Bramhall also : ' The Scripture and the Creed are not 
two different Rules of Faith, but one and the same Rule, 
dilated in Scripture, contracted in the Creed."" — WorJcs, p. 
402. Stillingfleet says the same {Grounds, i, 4. 3.) ; as 
does Thorndike {De Rat. fin. Controv. p. 144, &c.). Else- 
where, Stillingfleet calls Scripture the Rule {Ibid. i. 6. 2.) ; 
as does Jackson (vol. i. p. 226). But the most complete 
and decisive statement on the subject is contained in Field's 
work on the Church, from which shall follow a long extract. 

" • It remained to show,' he says, ' what is the Rule of that judgment 
whereby the Church discemeth between truth and falsehood, the faith 
and heresy, and to whom it properly pertaineth to interpret those 
things which, touching this Rule, are doubtful. The Rule of our Faith 
in general, whereby we know it to be true, is the infinite excellency 

of God It being pre-supposed in the generality that the doctrine 

of the Christian faith is of God, and containeth nothing but heavenly 
truth, in the next place, we are to inquire by what Rule we are to 
judge of particular things contained within the compass of it. 

" ' This Rule is, 1. The summary comprehension of such principal 
articles of this divine knowledge, as are the principles whence all other 
things are concluded and inferred. These are contained in the Creed 
of the Apostles. 

" ' 2. All such things as every Christian is bound expressly to be- 
lieve, by the light and direction whereof he judgeth of other things, 
which are not absolutely necessary so particularly to be known. These 
are rightly said to be the Rule of our Faith, because the principles of 
every science are the Rule whereby we judge of the truth of all things, 
as being better and more generally known than any other thing, and 
the cause of knowing them. 

" ' 3. The analogy, due proportion, and correspondence, that one 
thing in this divine knowledge hath with another, so that men cannot 
err in one of them without erring in another; nor rightly understand 
one, but they must likewise rightly conceive the rest. 

" ' 4. Whatsoever Books were delivered unto us, as written by 
them, to whom the first and immediate revelation of the divine truth 
was made. 

Holy Scripture and the Authority/ of the Church. 11 

" ' 5. Whatsoever hath been delivered by all the saints with one 
consent, which have left their judgment and opinion in writing. 

" ' 6. Whatsoever the most famous have constantly and uniformly 
delivered, as a matter of faith, no one contradicting, though many 
other ecclesiastical writers be silent, and say nothing of it. 

" * 7. Tliat which the most, and most famous in every age, con- 
stantly delivered as a matter of faith, and as received of them that 
went before them, in such sort that the contradictors and gainsayers 
were in their beginnings noted for singularity, novelty, and division, 
and afterwards, in process of time, if they persisted in such contra- 
diction, charged with heresy. 

" * These three latter Rules of our Faith we admit, not because they 
are equal with the former, and originally in themselves contain the 
direction of our Faith, but because nothing can be delivered, with 
such and so full consent of the people of God, as in them is ex- 
pressed, but it must need be from those first authors and founders of 
our Christian profession. The Romanists add unto these the decrees 
of Councils and determination of Popes, making these also fo be the 
Rules of Faith ; but because we have no proof of their infallibility, we 
number them not with the rest. 

" ' Thus we see how many things, in several degrees and sorts, are 
said to be Rules of our Faith. The infinite excellency of God, as that 
whereby the truth of the heavenly doctrine is proved. The Articles 
of Faith, and other verities ever expressly known in the Church as the 
first principles, are the Canon by which we judge of conclusions from 
thence inferred. The Scripture, as containing in it all that doctrine 
of Faith which Christ the Son of God delivered. The uniform prac- 
tice and consenting judgment of them that went before us, as a certain 
and undoubted explication of the things contained in the Scripture. 
.... So then, we do not make Scripture the Rule of our Faith, but that 
other things in their kind are Rules likewise ; in such sort that it is not 
safe, without respect had unto them, to judge things by the Scripture 
alone,' &c.— iv. 14. pp. 364, 365. 

" These extracts show not only what the Anglican doc- 
trine is, but, in particular, that the phrase ' Rule of Faith ' 
is no symbolical expression with us, appropriated to some 
one sense ; certainly not as a definition or attribute of Holy 
Scripture. And it is important to insist upon this, from 
the very great misconceptions to which the phrase gives 
rise. Perhaps its use had better be avoided altogether. In 
the Sense in which it is commonly understood at this day, 

1 2 Justification hy Faith only. 

Scripture, it is plain, is not^ on Anglican principles, the 
Rule of Faith." 

§ 2. — Justification hy Faith only. 

Article xi. — " That we are justified by Faith only, is a 
most wholesome doctrine."" 

The Homilies add that Faith is the sole means, the sole 
instrument of justification. Now, to show briefly what such 
statements imply, and what they do not. 

1 . They do not imply a denial of Baptism as a means and 
an instrument of justification ; which the Homilies else- 
where affirm, as will be shown incidentally in a later 

" The instrumental power of Faith cannot interfere with 
the instrumental power of Baptism ; because Faith is the 
sole justifier, not in contrast to all means and agencies 
whatever, (for it is not surely in contrast to our Lord's 
merits, or God's mercy,) but to all other graces. When, 
then. Faith is called the sole instrument, this means the sole 
internal instrument, not the sole instrument of any kind. 

" There is nothing inconsistent, then, in Faith being the 
sole instrument of justification, and yet Baptism also the 
sole instrument, and that at the same time, because in dis- 
tinct senses ; an inward instrument in no way interfering 
with an outward instrument, Baptism may be the hand of 
the giver, and Faith the hand of the receiver."" 

Nor does the sole instrumentality of Faith interfere with 
the doctrine of Works being a mean also. And that it is a 
mean, the Homily of Alms-deeds declares in the strongest 
language, as will also be quoted in Section 11. 

" An assent to the doctrine that Faith alone justifies, 
does not at all preclude the doctrine of Works justifying 
also. If, indeed, it were said that Works justify in the 
same sense as Faith only justifies, this would be a con- 

Justification hy Faith only. Vi 

tradiction in terms; but Faith only may justify in one 
sense — Good Works in another: — and this is all that is 
here maintained. After all, does not Christ only justify ? 
How is it that the doctrine of Faith justifying does not 
interfere with our Lord's being the sole Justifier ? It will, 
of course, be replied, that our Lord is the meritorious cause, 
and Faith the means; that Faith justifies in a different 
and subordinate sense. As, then, Christ justifies in the 
sense in which He justifies alone, yet Faith also justifies in 
its own sense; so Works, whether moral or ritual, may 
justify us in their own respective senses, though in the 
sense in which Faith justifies, it only justifies. The only 
question is. What is that sense in which Works justify, so 
as not to interfere with Faith only justifying? It may, 
indeed, turn out on inquiry, that the sense alleged will not 
hold, either as being unscriptural, or for any other reason ; 
but, whether so or not, at any rate the apparent incon- 
sistency of language should not startle persons ; nor should 
they so promptly condemn those who, though they do not 
use their language, use St. James"'s. Indeed, is not this 
argument the very weapon of the Arians, in their warfare 
against the Son of God ? They said, Christ is not God, 
because the Father is called the ' Only God.' " 

2. Next we have to inquire in what sense Faith only does 
justify. In a number of ways, of which here two only shall 
be mentioned. 

First, it is the pleading or impetrating principle, or 
constitutes our title to justification ; being analogous among 
the graces to Moses"* lifting up his hands on the Mount, or 
the Israelites eyeing the Brazen Serpent, — actions which 
did not merit God's mercy, but asked for it. A number of 
means go to effect our justification. We are justified by 
Christ alone, in that He has purchased the gift ; by Faith 
alone, in that Faith asks for it; by Baptism alone, for 
Baptism conveys it; and by newness of heart alone, for 
newness of heart is the life of it. 

And secondly, Faith, as being the beginning of perfect or 
justifying righteousness, is taken for what it tends towards, 

14 Works be/ore and after Jmtifcadon. 

or ultimately will be. It is said by anticipation to be that 
which it promises ; just as one might pay a labourer his 
hire before he began his work. Faith working by love is 
the seed of divine graces, which in due time will be brought 
forth and flourish — partly in this world, fully in the next. 

§ 3. — Worh he/ore and after Justification. 

Articles xii. & xiii. — " Works done before the grace of 
Chbist, and the inspiration of His Spirit, [' before justifi- 
cation,"* title of the Article,^ are not pleasant to God (minimi 
Deo grata sunt) ; forasmuch as they spring not of Faith in 
Jesus Christ, neither do they make man meet to receive 
grace, or (as the school authors say) deserve grace of 
congruity (merentur gratiam de congruo) ; yea, rather for 
that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded 
them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of 
sin. Albeit good works, which are the fruits of faith, and 
follow after justification (justificatos sequuntur), cannot put 
away (expiare) our sins, and endure the severity of God's 
judgment, yet are they pleasing and acceptable (grata et 
accepta) to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily 
of a true and lively Faith.'' 

Two sorts of works are here mentioned — works before 
justification, and works after ; and they are most strongly 
contrasted with each other. 

1. Works before justification, are done " before the grace 
of Christ, and the inspiration of His Spirit.'" 

2. Works before " do not spring of Faith in Jesus 
Christ ;'' works after are " the fruits of Faith." 

S. Works before " have the nature of sin C works after 
are " good works." 

4. Works before " are not pleasant (grata) to God ;" 
works after " are pleasing and acceptable (grata et accepta) 
to God." 

Works before and after Jtkstification. 15 

Two propositions, mentioned in these Articles, remain, 
and deserve consideration : First, that works before justifi- 
cation do not make or dispose men to receive grace, or, as 
the school writers say, deserve grace of congruity ; secondly, 
that works after "cannot put away our sins, and endure 
the severity of God's judgment." 

1. As to the former statement, — to deserve de congrm, 
or of congruity, is to move the Divine regard, not from 
any claim upon it, but from a certain fitness or suitableness ; 
as, for instance, it might be said that dry wood had a 
certain disposition or fitness towards heat which green 
wood had not. Now, the Article denies that works done 
before the grace of Christ, or in a mere state of nature, in 
this way dispose towards grace, or move God to grant 
grace. And it asserts, with or without reason, (for it is a 
question oi historical fact, which need not specially concern 
us,) that certain schoolmen maintained the affirmative. 

Now, that this is what it means, is plain from the 
following passages of the Homilies, which in no respect 
have greater claims upon us than as comments upon the 
Articles : — 

" Therefore they that teach repentance without a lively faith in our 
Savioor Jesus Christ, do teach none other but Judas 's repentance, 
as all the schoolmen do, which do only allow these three parts of re- 
pentance, — the contrition of the heart, the confession of the mouth, 
and the satisfaction of the work. But all these things we find in 
Judas's repentance, which, in outward appearance, did far exceed and 
pass the repentance of Peter. . . . This was commonly the penance 
which Christ enjoined sinners, * Go thy way, and sin no more ;' which 
penance we shall never be able to fulfil, tcithout the special grace of 
Him that doth say, ' Without Me, ye can do nothing.' " — On Re- 
pentance, p. 460. 

To take a passage which is still more clear : 

" As these examples are not brought in to the end that we should 
thereby take a boldness to sin, presuming on the mercy and goodness 
of God, but to the end that, if, through the frailness of our own flesh, 
and the temptation of the devil, we fall into the like sins, we should in 
no wise despair of the mercy and goodness of God : even so must we 
beWare and take heed, that we do in no wise think in our hearts. 

1 6 Worh before and after Justif cation. 

imagine, or believe that we are able to repent aright, or to turn effec- 
tually unto the Lord by our own might and strength." — Ibid, part i. fin. 

The Article contemplates these two states, — one of 
justifying grace, and one of the utter destitution of grace ; 
and it says, that those who are in utter destitution cannot 
do any thing to gain justification ; and, indeed, to assert 
the contrary would be Pelagianism. However, there is an 
intermediate state, of which the Article says nothing, but 
which must not be forgotten, as being an actually existing 
one. Men are not always either in Kght or in darkness, 
but are sometimes between the two ; they are sometimes 
not in a state of Christian justification, yet not utterly 
deserted by God, but in a state something like that of Jews 
or of Heathen, turning to the thought of religion. They 
are not gifted with habitual grace, but they still are visited 
by Divine influences, or by actual grace, or rather aid; 
and these influences are the first-fruits of the grace of 
justification going before it, and are intended to lead on to 
it, and to be perfected in it, as twilight leads to day. And 
since it is a Scripture maxim, that " he that is faithful in 
that which is least, is faithful also in much ;" and " to who- 
soever hath, to him shall be given ;"" therefore, it is quite 
true that works done with divine aid, and in faith, before 
justification, do dispose men to receive the grace of justifi- 
cation ; — such were Cornelius's alms, fastings, and prayers, 
which led to his baptism. At the same time it must be 
borne in mind that, even in such cases, it is not the works 
themselves which make them meet, as some schoolmen 
seem to have said, but the secret aid of God, vouchsafed, 
equally with the " grace and Spirit," which is the portion 
of the baptized, for the merits of Christ's sacrifice. 

[But it may be objected, that the silence observed in the 
Article about a state between that of justification and 
grace, and that of neither, is a proof that there is none 
such. This argument, however, would prove too much ; 
for in like manner there is a silence in the Sixth Article 
about a, Judge of the scripturalness of doctrine, yet a judge 

The Visible Church. 17 

there must be. And, again, few, it is supposed, would deny 
that Cornelius, before the angel came to him, was in a more 
hopeful state, than Simon Magus or Felix. The difficulty 
then, if there be one, is common to persons of whatever 
school of opinion.] 

2. If works before justification, when done by the influence 
of divine aid, gain grace, much more do works after justifi- 
cation. They are, according to the Article, "grata," 
" pleasing to God ;" and they are accepted, " accepta ;*" 
which means that God rewards them, and that of course 
according to their degree of excellence. At the same time, 
as works before justification may nevertheless be done 
under a divine influence, so works after justification are 
still liable to the infection of original sin ; and, as not 
being perfect, "cannot expiate our sins,"" or "endure the 
severity of God's judgment." 

§ 4. — The Visible Church. 

Art., xix. — " The visible Church of Christ is a congre- 
gation of faithful men (ccetus fidelium), in the which the 
pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly 
ministered, according to Christ's ordinance, in all those 
things that of necessity are requisite to the same." 

This is not an abstract definition of a Church, but a 
description of the actually existing One Holy Catholic 
Church diffused throughout the world ; as if it were read, 
" The Church is a certain society of the faithful," &c. 
This is evident from the mode of describing the Catholic 
Church familiar to all writers from the first ages down to 
the age of this Article. For instance, St. Clement of 
Alexandria says, "■ I mean by the Church, not a place, but 
the congregation of the elect.'''' Origen : " The Church, the 
assembly of all the faithful.'''' St. Ambrose : " One congre- 
gation^ one Church." St. Isidore : '* The Church is a con- 


18 The Visible Church. 

gregation of saints, collected on a certain faith, and the best 
conduct of life."" St. Augustin : " The Church is the people 
of God through all ages." Again: "The Church is the 
multitude which is spread over the whole earth." St. Cyril: 
" When we speak of the Church, we denote the most holy 
multitude of the pious.'''' Theodoret : " The Apostle calls 
the Church the assembly of the faithfuV Pope Gregory: 
" The Church, a multitude of the faithful collected of both 
sexes." IJede : ^ The Church is the congregation of all 
saints.'''' Alcuin : " The Holy Catholic Church, — in Latin, 
the congregation of the faithful.'''' Amalarius : " The Church 
is the people called together by the Church's ministers." 
Pope Nicolas I. : " The Church, that is, the congregation of 
Catholics.'''' St. Bernard : " What is the Spouse, but the 
congregation of the justf'' Peter the Venerable: "The 
Church is called a congregation, but not of all things, not of 
cattle, but of men, faithful, good, just. Though bad among 
these good, and just among the unjust, are revealed or 
concealed, yet it is called a Church." Hugo Victorinus : 
" The Holy Church, that is, the university of the faithful.'''' 
Amulphus : " The Church is called the congregation of the 
faithful.'''' Albertus Magnus : " The Greek word Chureli 
means in Latin convocation ; and whereas works and callings 
belongs to rational animals, and reason in man is inward 
faith, therefore it is called the congregation of the faithful.'''' 
Durandus : " The Church is in one sense material, in which 
divers offices are celebrated ; in another spiritual, which is 
the collection of the faithful,'''' Alvarus : " The Church is 
the multitude of the faithful, or the university of Christians." 
Pope Pius IL : " The Church is the multitude of the faith- 
ful dispersed through all nations '." [And so the Reformers, 
in their own way ; for instance, the Confession of Augsburgh. 
" The one Holy Church will remain for ever. Now the 
Church of Christ properly is the congregation of the 
members of Christ, that is, of saints who truly believe and 
obey Christ ; though with this congregation many bad 

' These instances are from Launoy. 

The Visible Church. 19 

and hypocrites are mixed in this Hfe, till the last judgment/' 
vii. — And the Saxon : " We say then that the visible 
Church in this life is an assembly of those who embrace the 
Gospel of Christ and rightly use the Sacraments," &c. xii.] 

These illustrations of the phraseology of the Article may 
be multiplied in any number. And they plainly show that 
it is not laying down any logical definition what a Church 
is, but is describing, and, as it were, pointing to the 
Catholic Church diffused throughout the world; which, 
being but one, cannot possibly be mistaken, and requires 
no other account of it beyond this single and majestic one. 
The ministration of the Word and Sacraments is mentioned 
as a further note of it. As to the question of its limits, 
whether Episcopal Succession or whether intercommunion 
with the whole be necessary to each part of it, — these are 
questions, most important indeed, but of detail, and are 
not expressly treated of in the Articles. 

This view is further illustrated by the following passage 
from the Homily for Whitsunday: — 

"Our Saviour Christ departing out of the world unto His Father, 
promised His Disciples to send down another Comforter, that should 
continue with them for ever, and direct them into all truth. Which 
thing, to be faithfully and truly performed, the Scriptures do suffi- 
ciently bear witness. Neitlier must we think that this Comforter 
was either promised, or else given, only to the Apostles, but also to 
the universal Church of Christ, dispersed through the whole world. 
For, unless the Holy Ghost has been always present, governing and 
preserving the Church from the beginning, it could never have suffered 
so many and great brunts of affliction and persecution, with so little 
damage and harm as it hath. And the words of Christ are most plain 
in this behalf, saying, that 'the Spirit of Truth should abide with 
them for ever;' that ' He would be with them always (He meaneth by 
grace, virtue, and power) even to the world's end.' 

"Also in the prayer that He made to His Father a little before 
His death, He maketh intercession, not only for Himself and His 
Apostles, but indifferently for all them that should believe in Him 
through their words, that is, to wit, for His whole Church. Again, 
St. Paul saith, 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same 
is not His.' Also, in the words following : ' We have received the 
Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' Hereby, then, it 
is evident and plain to all men, that the Holy Ghost was given, not 

c 2 

20 The Visible Church. 

only to the Apostles, but also to the whole body of Christ's congre- 
gation, although not in like form and majesty as He came down at tlie 
feast of Pentecost. But now herein standeth the controversy, — whether 
all men do justly arrogate to themselves the Holy Ghost, or no. 
The Bishops of Rome have for a long time made a sore challenge 
thereto, reasoning with themselves after this sort: 'The Holy Ghost,' 
say they, ' was promised to the Church, and never forsaketh the 
Church. But we are the chief heads and the principal part of the 
Church, therefore we have the Holy Ghost for ever: and whatsoever 
things we decree are undoubted verities and oracles of the Holy 
Ghost.' That ye may perceive the weakness of this argument, it is 
needful to teach you, first, what the true Church of Christ is, and then 
to confer the Church of Rome therewith, to discern how well they agree 
together. The true Church is an universal congregation or fellowship 
of God's faithful and elect people, built upon the foundation of the 
Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the head comer- 
stone. And it hath always three notes or marks, whereby it is known : 
pure and sound doctrine, the Sacraments ministered according to 
Christ's holy institution, and the right use of ecclesiastical discipline. 
This description of the Church is agreeable both to the Scriptures of 
God, and also to the doctrine of the ancient Fathers, so that none may 
justly find fault therewith. Now, if you will compare this with the Church 
of Rome, not as it was in the beginning, but as it is at present, and 
hath been for the space of nine hundred years and odd ; you shall well 
perceive the state thereof to be so far wide from the nature of the 
Church, that nothing can be more." 

This passage is quoted, not for all it contains, but in that 
respect in which it claims attention, viz. as far as it is an 
illustration of the Article. It is speaking of the one 
Catholic Church, not of an abstract idea of a Church which 
may be multiplied indefinitely in fact ; and it uses the 
same terms of it which the Article does of "the visible 
Church."" It says that " the true Church is an universal 
congregation or fellowship of God's faithful and elect 
people," &c., which as closely corresponds to the coetus 
fidelium^ or "congregation of faithful men" of the Article, 
as the above descriptions from Fathers or Divines do. 
Therefore, the ccetus jidelium spoken of in the Article is not 
a definition, which kirk, or connexion, or other communion 
may be made to fall under, but the enunciation of a fact. 


§ 6. — General Councils. 

Article xxi. — " General councils may not be gathered 
together without the commandment and will of princes. 
And when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they 
be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with 
the Spirit and Word of God, they may err, and sometimes 
have erred, in things pertaining to God." 

That great bodies of men, of different countries, may not 
meet together without the sanction of their rulers, is plain 
from the principles of civil obedience and from primitive 
practice. That, when met together, though Christians, 
they will not be all ruled by the Spirit or Word of God, 
is plain from our Lord"'s parable of the net, and from 
melancholy experience. That bodies of men, deficient in 
this respect, may err, is a self-evident truth, — unless, indeed, 
they be favoured with some divine superintendence, which 
has to be proved, before it can be admitted. 

General councils then may err, [as such ; — may err,] 
unless in any case it is promised, as a matter of express 
supernatural privilege, that they shall not err ; a case which 
[as consisting in the fulfilment of additional or subsequent 
conditions,] lies beyond the scope of this Article, or at any 
rate beside its determination. 

Such a promise, however, does exist, in cases when 
general councils are not only gathered together according 
to "the commandment and will of princes," but in the 
Name of Christ, according to our Lord''s promise. The 
Article merely contemplates the human prince, not the 
King of Saints. While councils are a thing of earth, their 
infallibility of course is not guaranteed ; when they are a 
thing of heaven, their deliberations are overruled, and their 
decrees authoritative. In such cases they are Catholic 
councils ; and it would seem, from passages which will 
l)e quoted in Section 11, that the Homilies recognize four, 
or even six, as bearing this character. Thus Catholic or 
(Ecumenical Councils are general councils, and something 

22 Purgatory^ Pardons, Images, 

more. Some general councils are Catholic, and others are 
not. Nay, as even Romanists grant, the same councils may 
be partly Catholic, partly not. 

If Catholicity be thus a quality, found at times in general 
councils, rather than the differentia belonging to a certain 
class of them, it is still less surprising that the Article 
should be silent about it. 

What those conditions are, which fulfil the notion of a 
gathering "in the Name of Christ," in the case of a 
particular council, it is not necessary here to determine. 
Some have included among these conditions, the subsequent 
reception of its decrees by the universal Church ; others a 
ratification by the pope. 

Another of these conditions, however, the Article goes 
on to mention, viz. that in points necessary to salvation, a 
council should prove its decrees by Scripture. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen well illustrates the consistency of 
this Article with a belief in the infallibility of OEcumenical 
Councils, by his own language on the subject on different 

In the following passage he anticipates the Article : — 

"My mind is, if I must write the truth, to keep clear of every con- 
ference of bishops, for of conference never saw I good come, or a 
remedy so much as an increase of evils. For there is strife and 
ambition, and these have the upper hand of reason." — Ep. 55. 

Yet, on the other hand, he speaks elsewhere of " the 
Holy Council in Nicsea, and that band of chosen men whom 
the Holy Ghost brought together." — Orat. 21. 

§ 6. — Purgatory, Pardons, Images, Belies, Invocation of 

Article xxii. — "The Romish doctrine concerning pur- 
gatory, pardons (de indulgentiis), worshipping (de vene- 
ratione) and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and 

Relics^ Invocation of Saints. 23 

also invocation of saints, is a fond thing (res est futilis) 
vainly (inaniter) invented, and grounded upon no warranty 
of Scripture, but rather repugnant (contradicit) to the 
Word of God." 

Now the first remark that occurs on perusing this Article 
is, that the doctrine objected to is " the Romish doctrine." 
For instance, no one would suppose that the Calvinisiic 
doctrine containing purgatory, pardons, and image-worship, 
is spoken against. Not every doctrine on these matters is 
a fond thing, but the Romish doctrine. Accordingly, the 
Primitive doctrine is not condemned in it, unless, indeed, 
the Primitive doctrine be the Romish, which must not be 
supposed. Now there was a primitive doctrine on all these 
points, — how far Catholic or universal, is a further question, 
— but still so widely received and so respectably supported, 
that it may well be entertained as a matter of opinion by a 
theologian now; this, then, whatever be its merits, is not 
condemned by this Article. 

This is clear without proof on the face of the matter, at 
least as regards pardons. Of course, the Article never 
meant to make light of ever^/ doctrine about pardons, but a 
certain doctrine, the Romish doctrine, [as indeed the plural 
form itself shows.] 

And [such an understanding of the Article is supported 
by] some sentences in the Homily on Peril of Idolatry, in 
which, as far as regards relics, a certain " veneration " is 
sanctioned by its tone in speaking of them, though not of 
course the Romish veneration. 

The sentences referred to run as follow : — 

" In the Tripartite Ecclesiastical History, the Ninth Book, and 
Forty-eighth Chapter, is testified, that * Epiphanius, being yet alive, 
did work miracles : and that after his death, devils, being expelkd at 
his grave or tomb, did roar.' Thus you see what authority St. Jerome 
(who has just been mentioned) and that most ancient history give luito 
the holy and learned Bishop Epiphanius." 

Again : 

"St. Ambrose, in his Treatise of the Death of Theodosius the 

24 Purgatory^ Pardons, ImageSy 

Emperor, saith, ' Helena found the Cross, and the title on it. She 
worshipped the King, and not the wood, surely (for that is an 
heathenish error and the vanity of the wicked), but she worshipped 
Him that hanged on the Cross, and whose Name was written on the 
title,' and so forth. See both the godly empress's fact, and St. 
Ambrose's judgment at once ; they thought it had been an heathenish 
error, and vanity of the wicked, to have worshipped the Cross itself 
which was imbrued with our Saviour Christ's own precious blood." — 
Perit of Idolatry, part 2, circ. init. 

In these passages the writer does not positively commit 
himself to the miracles at Epiphanius's tomb, or the 
discovery of the true Cross, but he evidently wishes the 
hearer to think he believes in both. This he would not do, 
if he thought all honour paid to relics wrong. 

If, then, in the judgment of the Homilies, not all doctrine 
concerning veneration of relics is condemned in the Article 
before us, but a certain toleration of them is compatible 
with its wording ; neither is all doctrine concerning pur- 
gatory, pardons, images, and saints, condemned by the 
Article, but only " the Romish." 

And further by " the Romish doctrine," is not meant the 
Tridentine [statement], because this Article was drawn up 
before the decree of the Council of Trent. What is opposed 
is the received doctrine of the day, and unhappily of this 
day too, or the doctrine of the Roman schools ; a conclusion 
which is still more clear, by considering that there are 
portions in the Tridentine [statements] on these subjects, 
which the Article, far from condemning, by anticipation 
approves, as far as they go. For instance, the Decree of 
Trent enjoins concerning purgatory thus : — " Among the 
uneducated vulgar let difficult and subtle qmstionSy which 
make not for edification, and seldom contribute aught 
towards piety, be kept back from popular discourses. 
Neither let them suffer the public mention and treatment of 
uncertain points, or such as looJc like falsehood.'''' Session 25. 
Again, about images : " Due honour and veneration is to be 
paid unto them, not that we believe that any divinity or 
virtue is in tliem, for which they should be worshipped 

Belies, Invocation of Saints. 25 

(eolendse) or that we should ask any thing of them, or that 
trust should be reposed in images, as formerly was done 
by the Gentiles, which used to place their hope on idols." 

If then, the doctrine condemned in this Article concerning 
purgatory, pardons, images, relics, and saints, be not the 
Primitive doctrine, nor the Catholic doctrine, nor the Tri- 
dentine [statement] but the Romish, doctrina Romanensium, 
let us next consider what in matter of fact it is. And 

1. As to the doctrine of the Romanists concerning 

Now here there was a primitive doctrine, whatever its 
merits, concerning the fire of judgment, which is a possible 
or a probable opinion, and is not condemned. That doctrine 
is this : that the conflagration of the world, or the flames 
which attend the Judge, will be an ordeal through which 
all men will pass ; that great saints, such as St. Mary, will 
pass it unharmed ; that others will suffer loss ; but none 
will fail under it who are built upon the right foundation. 
Here is one [purgatorian doctrine] not " Romish." 

Another doctrine, purgatorian, but not Romish, is that 
said to be maintained by the Greeks at Florence, in which 
the cleansing, though a punishment, was but a poena damni, 
not a poena sensus ; not a positive sensible infliction, much 
less the torment of fire, but the absence of God's presence. 
And another purgatory is that in which the cleansing is but 
a progressive sanctification, and has no pain at all. 

None of these doctrines does the Article condemn ; any 
of them may be held by the Anglo- Catholic as a matter of 
private belief; not that they are here advocated, one or 
other, but they are adduced as an illustration of what the 
Article does not mean, and to vindicate our Christian 
liberty in a matter where the Church has not confined it. 

[For what the doctrine which is reprobated is, we might 
refer, in the first place, to the Council of Florence, where a 
decree was passed on the subject, were not that decree 
almost as vague as the Tridentine ; viz. that deficiency of 
penance is made up by pocnce piirgatoriw.] 

26 Purgatory. 

" Now doth St. Augustine say, that those men which are cast into 
prison after this life, on that condition, may in no wise be liolpen, 
though we would help them never so much. And why ? Because the 
sentence of God is unchangeable, and cannot be revoked again. There- 
fore let us not deceive ourselves, thinking that either we may help 
others, or others may help us, by their good and charitable prayers in 
time to come. For, as the preacher saith, ' Where the tree falleth, 
whether it be toward the south, or toward the north, in what place 
soever the tree falleth, there it lieth:' meaning thereby, that every 
mortal man dieth either in the state of salvation or damnation, according 
as the words of the Evangelist John do plainly import, saying, ' He 
that believeth on the Son of God hath eternal life ; but he that 
believeth not on the Son, shall never see life, but the wrath of God 
abideth upon him,' — where is then the third place, which they call 
purgatory? Or where shall our prayers help and profit the dead? 
St. Augustine doth only acknowledge two places after this life, heaven 
and hell. As for the third place, he doth plainly deny that there 
is any such to be found in all Scripture. Chrysostom likewise is of 
this mind, that, unless we wash away our sins in this present world, 
we shall find no comfort afterward. And St. Cyprian saith, that, 
after death, repentance and sorrow of pain shall be without fruit, 
weeping also shall be in vain, and prayer shall be to no purpose. 
Therefore he counselleth all men to make provision for themselves 
while they may, because, when they are once departed out of this life, 
there is no place for repentance, nor yet for satisfaction." — Homily 
concerning Prayer, pp. 282, 283. 

Now it [would seem], from this passage, that the Pur- 
gatory contemplated by the Homily, was one for which no 
one will for an instant pretend to adduce even those 
Fathers who most favour Rome, viz. one in which our state 
would he changed^ in which God's sentence could be reversed. 
" The sentence of God,"" says the writer, " is 'unchangeable, 
and cannot be revoked again ; there is no place for re- 
pentance.'''' On the other hand, the Council of Trent, and 
Augustin and Cyprian, so far as they express or imply any 
opinion approximating to that of the Council, held Purgatory 
to be a place for believers, not unbelievers, not where men 
who have lived and died in God"'s wrath, may gain pardon, 
but where those who have already been pardoned in this 
life, may be cleansed and purified for beholding the face of 
God. The Homily, then, and therefore the Article [as far 

Purgatory. 27 

as the Homily maj be taken to explain it], does not speak 
of the Tridentine purgatory. 

The mention of Prayers for the dead in the above passage, 
affords an additional illustration of the limited and [relative] 
sense of the terms of the Article now under consideration. 
For such prayers are obviously not condemned in it in the 
abstract, or in every shape, but as offered to rescue the lost 
from eternal fire. 

[Hooker, in his Sermon on Pride, gives us a second view 
of the " Romish doctrine of Purgatory," from the schoolmen. 
After speaking of the pcena damni, he says — 

"The other punishment, which hath in it not only loss of joy, but 
also sense of grief, vexation, and woe, is that whereunto they give the 
name of purgatory pains, in nothing different from those very infernal 
torments which the souls of castaways, together with damned spirits, do 
endure, save only in this, there is an appointed term to the one, to the 
other none ; but for the time they last they are equal." — Vol. 
iii. p. 798.] 

Such doctrine, too, as the following may well be included 
in that which the Article condemns under the name of 
" Romish." The passage to be quoted has already appeared 
in these Tracts. 

" In the ' Speculum Exemplorum ' it is said, that a certain priest, in 
an ecstasy, saw the soul of Constantius Turritanus in the eaves of his 
house, tormented with frosts and cold rains, and afterwards climbing 
up to heaven upon a shining pillar. And a certain monk saw some 
souls roasted upon spits like pigs, and some devils basting them with 
scalding lard ; but a while after, they were carried to a cool place, and 
so proved purgatory. But Bishop Theobald, standing upon a piece of 
ice to cool his feet, was nearer purgatory than he was aware, and was 
convinced of it, when he heard a poor soul telling him, that under that 
ice he was tormented ; and that he should be delivered, if for thirty 
days continual, he would sa^ for him thirty masses. And some such 
thing was seen by Conrade and Udalric in a pool of water ; for the 
place of purgatory was not yet resolved on, till St. Patrick had the 
key of it delivered to him, which when one Nicholas borrowed of him, 
he saw as strange and true things there, as ever Virgil dreamed of in 
his purgatory, or Cicero in his dream of Scipio, or Plato in his Gorgias, 
or Phitdo, who indeed are the surest authors to prove purgatory. 
But because to preacli false stories was forbidden by tlic Council of 

28 Purgatory. 

Trent, there are yet remaining more certain argnments, even revelations 
made by angels, and the testimony of St. Odilio himself, who heard 
the devil complain (and he had great reason surely), that the souls 
of dead men were daily snatched out of his hands, by the alms and 
prayers of the living; and the sister of St. Damianus, being too much 
pleased with hearing of a piper, told her brother, that she was to be 
tormented for fifteen days in purgatory. 

'• We do not think that the wise men in the Church of Rome believe 
these narratives; for if they did, they were not wise; but this we 
know, that by such stories the people were brought into a belief of it, 
and having served their turn of them, the master builders used them 
as false arches and centries, taking them away when the parts of the 
building were made firm and stable by authority." — Jer. Taylor, 
Works, vol. X. pp. 151, 152. 

Another specimen of doctrine, which no one will attempt 
to prove from Scripture, is the following : — 

"Eastwardly, between two walls, was a vast place of purgatory 
fixed, and beyond it a pond to rinse souls in, that had waded through 
purgatory, the water being salt and cold beyond comparison. Over 
this purgatory St. Nicholas was the owner. 

" There was a mighty bridge, all beset with nails and spikes, and 
leading to the mount of joy ; on which mount was a stately church, 
seemingly capable to contain all the inhabitants of the world, and into 
which the souls were no sooner entered, but that they forgot all their 
former torments. 

" Returning to the first Church, there they found St. Michael the 
Archangel and the Apostles Peter and Paul. St. Michael caused all 
the white souls to pass through the flames, unharmed, to the mount of 
joy ; and those that had black and white spots, St. Peter led into pur- 
gatory to be purified. 

" In one part sate St. Paul, and the devil opposite to him with his 
guards, with a pair of scales between them, weighing all such souls as 
were all over black; when upon turning a soul, the scale turned 
towards St. Paul, he sent it to purgatory, there to expiate its sins; 
when towards the devil, his crew, with great triumph, plunged it into 
the flaming pit 

** The rustic likewise saw near the entrance of the town-hall, aa it 
were, four streets ; the first was full of innumerable furnaces and 
cauldrons filled with flaming pitch and other liquids, and boiling of 
souls, whose heads were like those of black fishes in the seething 
liquor. The second had its cauldrons stored with snow and ice, to 
torment souls with horrid cold. The third had thereof boiling sulphur 
and other materials, affording the worst of stinks, for the vexing of 

Pardons. 29 

souls that had wallowed in the filth of lust. The fourth had cauldrons 
of a most horrid salt and black water. Now sinners of all sorts were 
alternately tormented in these cauldrons." — Purgatory proved by Mi- 
racle, by S. Johnson, pp. 8 — 10. 

[Let it be considered, then, whether on the whole the 
" Romish doctrine of Purgatory," which the Article con- 
demns, and which was generally believed in the Roman 
Church three centuries since, as well as now, viewed in its 
essence, be not the doctrine, that the punishment of un- 
righteous Christians is temporary, not eternal, and that the 
purification of the righteous is a portion of the same 
punishment, together with the superstitions, and impostures 
for the sake of gain, consequent thereupon.] 

2. Pardons, or Indulgences. 

The history of the rise of the Reformation will interpret 
" the Romish doctrine concerning pardons," without going 
further. Burnet thus speaks on the subject : — 

" In the primitive church there were very severe rules made, obliging 
all that had sinned publicly (and they were afterwards applied to such 
as had sinned secretly) to continue for many years in a state of 
separation from the Sacrament, and of penance and discipline. But 
because all such general rules admit of a great variety of circumstances, 
taken from men's sins, their persons, and their repentance, there was a 
power given to all Bishops, by the Council of Nice, to shorten the 
time, and to relax the severity of those Canons, and such favour as 
they saw cause to grant, was called indulgence. This was just and 
necessary, and was a provision without which no constitution or 
society can be well governed. But after the tenth century, as the 
Popes came to take this power in the whole extent of it into their own 
hands, so they found it too feeble to carry on the great designs that 
they grafted upon it. 

" They gave it high names, and called it a plenary remission, and 
the pardon of all sins : which the world was taught to look on as a 
thing of a much higher nature, than the bare excusing of men from 
discipline and penance. Purgatory was then got to be firmly believed, 
and all men were strangely possessed with the terror of it : so a 
deliverance from purgatory, and by consequence an immediate ad- 
mission into heaven, was believed to be the certain effect of it. 
Multitudes were, by these means, engaged to go to the Holy Land, to 
recover it out of the hands of the Saracens : afterwards they armed 
vast numbers against the heretics, to extirpate them : they fought also 

so Pardons. 

all those quarrels, which their ambitious pretensions engaged them in, 
with emperors and other princes, by the same pay ; and at last they 
set it to sale with the same impudence, and almost with the same 
methods, that mountebanks use in venting of their secrets. 

" This was so gross, even in an ignorant age, and among the ruder 
sort, that it gave the first rise to the Reformation : and as the progress 
of it was a very signal work of God, so it was in a great measure 
owing to the scandals that this shameless practice had given the world." 
— Burnet on Article XIV. p. 190. 

Again : — 

" The virtue of indulgences is the applying the treasure of the 
Church upon such terms as Popes shall think fit to prescribe, in order 
to the redeeming souls from purgatory, and from all other temporal 
punishments, and that for such a number of years as shall be specified 
in the bulls ; some of which have gone to thousands of years ; one I 
have seen to ten hundred thousand : and as these indulgences are 
sometimes granted by special tickets, like tallies struck on that 
treasure ; so sometimes they are affixed to particular churches and 
altars, to particular times, or days, chiefly to the year of jubilee; they 
are also affixed to such things as may be carried about, to Agnus Dei's, 
to medals, to rosaries, and scapularies ; they are also affixed to some 
prayers, the devout saying of them being a mean to procure great 
indulgences. The granting these is left to the Pope's discretion, who 
ought to distribute them as he thinks may tend most to the honour of 
God and the good of the Church ; and he ought not to be too profuse, 
much less to be too scanty in dispensing them. 

" This has been the received doctrine and practice of the Church of 
Rome since the twelfth century : and the Council of Trent, in a hurry, 
in its last session, did, in very general words, approve of the practice 
of the Church in this matter, and decreed that indulgences should be 
continued ; only they restrained some abuses, in particular that of selling 
them." — Burnet on Article XXII. p. 305. 

Burnet goes on to maintain that the act of the Council 
was incomplete and evaded. If it be necessary to say more 
on the subject, let us attend to the following passage from 
Jeremy Taylor : — 

" I might have instanced in worse matters, made by the Popes of 
Rome to be pious works, the condition of obtaining indulgences. 
Such as was the bull of Pope Julius the Second, giving indulgence to 
him that meeting a Frenchman should kill him, and another for the 

killing of a Venetian I desire this only instance may be added 

to it, that Pope Paul the Third, he that convened the Council of Trent, 

Pardons. 31 

and Julius the Third, for fear, as I may suppose, the Council should 
forbid any more such follies, for a farewell to this game, gave an 
indulgence to the fraternity of the Sacrament of the Altar, or of the 
Blessed Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of such a vastness and un- 
reasonable folly, that it puts us beyond the question of religion, to an 
inquiry, whether it were not done either in perfect distraction, or, with 
a worse design, to make religion to be ridiculous, and to expose it to a 
contempt and scorn. The conditions of the indulgence are, either to 
visit the Chiu'ch of St. Hilary of Chartres, to say a ' Pater Noster' and 
an ' Ave Mary ' every Friday, or, at most, to be present at processions 
and other divine service upon 'Corpus Christi day.' The gift is — as 
many privileges, indults, exemptions, liberties, immunities, plenary 
pardons of sins, and other spiritual graces, as were given to the 
fraternity of the Image of our Saviour 'ad Sancta Sanctorum;' the 
fraternity of the charity and great hospital of St. James in Augusta, 
of St. John Baptist, of St. Cosmas and Damianus ; of the Florentine 
nation ; of the hospital of the Holy Ghost in Saxia ; of the order of 
St. Austin and St. Champ ; of the fraternities of the said city ; of the 
churches of our Lady ' de populo et verbo ;' and all those that were 
ever given to them that visited these churches, or those which should 
ever be given hereafter — a pretty large gift ! In which there were so 
many pardons, quarter-pardons, half-pardons, true pardons, plenary 
pardons, quarantines, and years of quarantines ; that it is a harder 
thing to number them, than to purchase them. I shall remark in these 
some particulars to be considered. 

"1. That a most scandalous and unchristian dissolution and death 
of all ecclesiastical discipline, is consequent to the making all sin so 
cheap and trivial a thing ; that the horrible demerits and exemplary 
punishment and remotion of scandal and satisfaction to the Church, 
are indeed reduced to trifling and mock penances. He that shall send 
a servant with a candle to attend the holy Sacrament, when it shall be 
carried to sick people, or shall go himself; or, if he can neither go nor 
send, if he say a * Pater.Noster ' and an 'Ave,' he shall have a hundred 
years of true pardon. This is fair and easy. But then, 

"2. It would be considered what is meant by so many years of 
pardon, and so many years of true pardon. I know \)\\t of one natural 
interpretation of it; and that it can mean nothing, but that some of 
the pardons are but fantastical, and not true; and in this I find 
no fault, save only that it ought to have been said, that all of them 
are fantastical. 

" 3. It were fit we learned how to compute four thousand and eight 
hundred years of quarantines, and a remission of a third part of all 
their sins; for so much is given to every brother and sister of this 
fraternity, upon Easter-day, and eight days after. Now if a brother 

32 Images and Relics. 

needs not thus many, it would be considered whether it did not 
encourage a brother or a frail sister to use all their medicine, and sin 
more freely, lest so great a gift become useless. 

" 4. And this is so much the more considerable because the gift is 
vast beyond all imagination. The first four days in Lent they may 
purchase thirty-three thousand years of pardon, besides a plenary 
remission of all their sins over and above. The first week of Lent a 
hundred and three-and-thirty thousand years of pardon, besides five 
plenary remissions of all their sins, and two third parts besides, and 
the delivery of one soul out of purgatory. The second week in Lent 
a hundred and eight-and-fifty thousand years of pardon, besides the 
remission of all their sins, and a third part besides ; and the delivery 
of one soul. The third week in Lent, eighty thousand years, besides 
a plenary remission, and the delivery of one soul out of purgatory. 
The fourth week in Lent, threescore thousand years of pardon, besides 
a remission of two-thirds of all their sins, and one plenary remission, 
and one soul delivered. The fifth week, seventy-nine thousand years 
of pardon, and the deliverance of two souls ; only the two thousand 
seven hundred years that are given for the Sunday, may be had twice 
that day, if they will visit the altar twice, and as many quarantines. 
The sixth week, two hundred and five thousand years, besides 
quarantines, and four plenary pardons. Only on Palm Sunday, whose 
portion is twenty-five thousand years, it may be had twice that day. 
And all this is the price of him that shall, upon these days, visit the 
altar in the Church of St. Hilary. And this runs on to the Fridays, 
and many festivals and other solemn days in the other parts of the 
year." — Jer. Taylor, vol. xi. pp, 53 — 56. 

[The doctrine then of pardons, spoken of in the Article, 
is the doctrine maintained and acted on in the Roman 
Church, that remission of the penalties of sin in the next 
life may be obtained by the power of the Pope, with such 
abuses as money payments consequent thereupon '.] 

8. Veneration and worshipping of Images and Relics. 

That the Hbmilies do not altogether discard reverence 
towards relics, has already been shown. Now let us see 
what they do discard. 

" What meaneth it that Christian men, after the use of the Gentiles 
idolaters, cap and kneel before images ? which, if they had any sense 

^ " The pardons then^ spoken of in the Article, are large and 
reckless indulgences from the penalties of sin obtained on money 
payments." ist ed. 

Images and Relics. 33 

and gratitude, would kneel before men, carpenters, masons, plasterers, 
founders, and goldsmiths, their makers and framers, by whose means 
they have attained this honour, which else should have been evil- 
favoured, and rude lumps of clay or plaster, pieces of timber, stone, or 
metal, without shape or fashion, and so without all estimation and 
honour, as that idol in the Pagan poet confessetb, saying, ' I was once 
a vile block, but now I am become a god,' &c. What a fond thing is 
it for man, who hath life and reason, to bow himself to a dead and 
insensible image, the work of his own hand ! Is not this stooping and 
kneeling before them, which is forbidden so earnestly by Gods word? 
Let such as so fall down befoi-e images of saints, know and confess 
that they exhibit that honour to dead stocks and stones, which the 
saints themselves, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, would not to be given to 
them, being alive ; which the angel of God forbiddetb to be given to 
him. And if they say they exhibit such honour not to the image, but 
to the saint whom it representeth, they are convicted of folly, to 
believe that they please saints with that honour, which they abhor as 
a spoil of God's honour." — Homily on Peril of Idolatry , p. 191. 

Again : 

"Thus far Lactantius, and much more, too long here to write, of 
candle lighting in temples before images and idols for religion ; whereby 
appeareth both the foolishness thereof, and also that in opinion and act 
we do agree altogether in our candle-religion with the Gentiles 
idolaters. What meaneth it that they, after the example of the 
Gentiles idolaters, burn incense, offer up gold to images, hang up 
crutches, chains, and ships, legs, arms, and whole men and women of 
wax, before images, as though by them, or saints (as they say) they 
were delivered from lameness, sickness, captivity, or shipwreck? Is 
not this ' colere imagines,' to worship images, so earnestly forbidden in 
God's word ? If they deny it, let them read the eleventh chapter of 
Daniel the Prophet, who saith of Antichrist, ' He shall worship God, 
whom his fathers knew not, with gold, silver, and with precious 
stones, and other things of pleasure :' in which place the Latin word 

is colet." "To increase this madness, wicked men, which have 

the keeping of such images, for their great lucre and advantage, after 
the example of the Gentiles idolaters, have reported and spread 
abroad, as well by lying tales as written fables, divers miracles of 
images : as that such an image miraculously was sent from heaven, 
even like the Palladium, or Magna Diana Ephesiorum. Such another 
was as miraculously found in the earth, as the man's head was in the 
Capitol, or the horse's head in Capua. Such an image was brought by 
angels. Such an one came itself far from the East to the West, as 
Dame Fortune fled to Rome. Such an image of our Lady was 


34 Images and Relics. 

painted by St. Luke, whom of a physician they have made a painter 
for tliat purpose. Such an one an hundred yokes of oxen could not 
move, like Bona Dea, whom the ship could not carry; or Jupiter 
Olympius, which laughed the artificers to scorn, that went about to 
remove him to Rome. Some images, though they were hard and 
stony, yet, for tender heart and pity, wept. Some, like Castor and 
Pollux, helping their friends in battle, sweat, as marble pillars do in 
dankish weather. Some spake more monstrously than ever did 
Balaam's ass, who had life and breath in him. Such a cripple came 
and saluted this saint of oak, and by and by he was made whole ; and 
lo! here hangeth his crutch. Such an one in a tempest vowed to St. 
Christopher, and 'scaped ; and behold, here is a ship of wax. Such 
an one, by St. Leonard's help, brake out of prison, and see where 

his fetters hang." " The Relics we must kiss and offer unto, 

specially on Relic Sunday. And while we offer, (that we should not 
be weary, or repent us of our cost,) the music and minstrelsy goeth 
merrily all the offertory time, with praising and calling upon those 
saints, whose relics be then in presence. Yea, and the water also, 
wherein those relics have been dipped, must with great reverence be 

reserved, as very holy and effectuous." " Because Relics were 

so gainful, few places were there but they had Relics provided for 
them. And for more plenty of Relics, some one saint had many heads, 
one in one place, and another in another place. Some had six arms, 
and twenty-six fingers. And where our Lord bare His cross alone, 
if all the pieces of the relics thereof were gathered together, the 
greatest ship in England would scarcely bear them; and yet the 
greatest part of it, they say, doth yet remain in the hands of the 
Infidels ; for the which they pray in their beads-bidding, that they 
may get it also into their hands, for such godly use and purpose. 
And not only the bones of tlie saints, but every thing appertaining to 
them, was a holy relic. In some place they offer a sword, in some the 
scabbard, in some a shoe, in some a saddle that had been set upon 
some holy horse, in some the coals wherewith St. Laurence was roasted, 
in some place the tail of the ass which our Lord Jesus Christ sat on, 
to be kissed and offered unto for a relic. For rather than they would 
lack a relic, they would offer you a horse bone instead of a virgin's arm, 
or the tail of the ass to be kissed and ofiered unto for relics. O 
wicked, impudent, and most shameless men, the devisers of these 
things ! O silly, foolish, and dastardly daws, and more beastly than 

the ass whose tail they kissed, that believe such things! " "Of 

these things already rehearsed, it is evident that our image maintainers 
have not only made images, and set them up in temples, as did the 
Gentiles idolaters their idols; but also that they have had the same 
idolatrous opinions of the saints, to whom they have made images, 

Images and Belies. 35 

which the Gentiles idolaters had of their false gods ; and have not only 
worshipped their images with the same rites, ceremonies, superstition, 
and all circumstances, as did the Gentiles idolaters their idols, but in 
many points have also far exceeded them in all wickedness, foolish- 
ness, and madness." — Homily on Peril of Idolatry, pp. 193 — 197. 

It will be observed that in this extract, as elsewhere in 
the Homilies, it is implied that the Bishop or the Church 
of Rome is Antichrist ; but this is a statement bearing on 
prophetical interpretation, not on doctrine ; and one be- 
sides which cannot be reasonably brought to illustrate or 
explain any of the positions of the Articles : and therefore 
it may be suitably passed over. 

In another place the Homilies speak as follows: — 

" Our churches stand full of such great puppets, wondrously decked 
and adorned; garlands and coronets be set on their heads, precious 
pearls hanging about their necks; their fingers shine with rings, set 
with precious stones; their dead and stiff bodies are clothed with 
garments stiff with gold. You would believe that the images of our 
men-saints were some princes of Persia land with their proud apparel ; 
and the idols of our women-saints were nice and well-trimmed harlots, 
tempting their paramours to wantonness : whereby the saints of God 
are not honoured, but most dishonoured, and their godliness, sober- 
ness, chastity, contempt of riches, and of the vanity of the world, 
defaced and brought in doubt by such monstrous decking, most differing 
from their sober and godly lives. And because the whole pageant 
must thoroughly be played, it is not enough thus to deck idols, but at 
last come in the priests themselves, likewise decked with gold and 
pearl, that they may be meet servants for such lords and ladies, and 
fit worshippers of such gods and goddesses. And with a solemn pace 
they pass forth before these golden puppets, and fall down to the ground 
on their marrow-bones before these honourable idols; and then rising 
up again, offer up odours and incense unto them, to give the people an 
example of double idolatry, by worshipping not only the idol, but the 
gold also, and riches, wherewith it is garnished. Which thing, the 
most part of our old Martyrs, rather than they would do, or once 
kneel, or offer up one crumb of incense before an image, suffered most 
cruel and terrible deaths, as the histories of them at large do declare." 
" O books and scriptures, in the which the devilish school- 
master, Satan, hath penned the lewd lessons of wicked idolatry, for his 
dastardly disciples and scholars to behold, read, and learn, to God's 
most high dishonour, and their most horrible damnation ! Have we 
uot been much bound, think you, to those which should have taught 

D 2 

36 Images and Belies. 

us the truth out of God's Book and Wis Holy Scripture, that they have 
shut up that Book and Scripture from us, and none of us so bold as 
once to open it, or read in it ? And instead thereof, to spread us 
abroad these goodly, carved, and gilded books and painted scriptures, 
to teach us such good and godly lessons? Have not they done well, 
after they ceased to stand in pulpits themselves, and to teach the 
people committed to their instruction, keeping silence of God's word, 
and become dumb dogs, (as the Prophet calleth them,) to set up in 
their stead, on every pillar and corner of the church, such goodly 
doctors, as dumb, but more wicked than themselves be ? We need not 
to complain of the lack of one dumb parson, having so many dumb 
devilish vicars (I mean these idols and painted puppets) to teach in 
their stead. Now in the mean season, whilst the dumb and dead idols 
stand thus decked and clothed, contrary to God's law and command- 
ment, the poor Christian people, the lively images of God, commended 
to us so tenderly by our Saviour Christ, as most dear to Him, stand 
naked, shivering for cold, and their teeth chattering in their heads, 
and no man covereth them, are pined with hunger and thirst, and no 
man giveth them a penny to refresh them ; whereas pounds be ready 
at all times (contrary to God's word and will) to deck and trim dead 
stocks and stones, which neither feel cold, hunger, nor thirst." — 
Homily on Peril of Idolatry, pp. 219 — 222. 

Again, with a covert allusion to the abuses of the day, 
the Homilist says elsewhere, of Scripture, 

" There shall you read of Baal, Moloch, Chamos, Melchom, Baalpeor, 
Astaroth, Bel, the Dragon, Priapus, the brazen Serpent, the twelve 
Signs, and many others, unto whose images the people, with great 
devotion, invented pilgrimages, precious decking, and censing them, 
kneeling down, and offering to them, thinking that an high merit before 
God, and to be esteemed above the precepts and commaudments of 
God." — Homily on Good Works, p. 42. 

Again, soon after : 

" What man, having any judgment or learning, joined with a true 
zeal unto God, doth not see and lament to have entered into Christ's 
religion, such false doctrine, superstition, idolatry, hypocrisy, and 
. other enormities and abuses, so as by little and little, through the sour 
leaven thereof, the sweet bread of God's holy word hath been much 
hindered and laid apart? Never had the Jews, in their most blindness, 
so many pilgrimages unto images, nor used so much kneeling, kissing, 
and censing of them, as hath been used in our time. Sects and feigned 
religions were neither the fortieth part so many among the Jews, nor 
more superstitiously and ungodly abused, than of late years they have 

Images and Relics. 37 

been among us : which sects and religions had so many hypocritical 
and feigned works in their state of religion, as they arrogantly named 
it, that their lamps, as they said, ran always over, able to satisfy not 
only for their own sins, but also for all other their benefactors, 
brothers, and sisters of religion, as most ungodly and craftily they had 
persuaded the multitude of ignorant people; keeping in divers places, 
as it were, marts or markets of merits, being full of their holy relics, 
images, shrines, and works of overflowing abundance, ready to be sold ; 
and all tilings which they had were called holy — holy cowls, holy 
girdles, holy pardons, holy beads, holy shoes, holy rules, and all full 
of holiness. And what thing can be more foolish, more superstitious, 
or ungodly, than that men, women, and children, should wear a friar's 
coat to deliver them from agues or pestilence ; or when they die, or 
when they be buried, cause it to be cast upon them, in hope thereby to 
be saved ? Which superstition, although (thanks be to God) it hath 
been little used in this realm, yet in divers other realms it hath been, 
and yet is, used among many, both learned and unlearned." — Homily 
on Good JVor/cs, pp. 45, 46. 

[Once more: — 

"True religion then, and pleasing of God, standeth not in making, 
setting up, painting, gilding, clothing, and decking of dumb and dead 
images (which be but great puppets and babies for old fools in dotage, 
and wicked idolatry, to dally and play with), nor in kissing of them, 
capping, kneeling, offering to them, incensing of them, setting up of 
candles, hanging up of legs, arms, or whole bodies of wax before 
them, or praying or asking of them, or of saints, things belonging only 
to God to give. But all these things be vain and abominable, and 
most damnable before God." — Homily on Peril of Idolatry, p. 223.] 

Now the veneration and worship condemned in these and 
other passages are such as these : kneeling before images, 
lighting candles to them, offering them incense, going on 
pilgrimage to them, hanging up crutches, &c. before them, 
lying tales about them, belief in miracles as if wrought by 
them through illusion of the devil, decking them up im- 
modestly, and providing incentives by them to bad passions ; 
and, in like manner, merry music and minstrelsy, and li- 
centious practices in honour of relics, counterfeit relics, 
multiplication of them, absurd pretences about them. This 
is what the Article means by "the Romish doctrine," 
which, in agreement to one of the above extracts, it calls 
"a fond thing," resfutilis; for who can ever hope, except 

38 Invocation 0/ Saints. 

the grossest and most blinded minds, to be gaining the 
favour of the blessed saints, while they come with unchaste 
thoughts and eyes, that cannot cease from sin ; and to be 
profited by " pilgrimage-going," in which " Lady Venus 
and her son Cupid were rather worshipped wantonly in the 
flesh, than God the Father, and our Saviour Christ His 
Son, truly worshipped in the Spirit?" 

Here again it is remarkable that, urged by the truth of 
the allegation, the Council of Trent is obliged, both to 
confess the above-mentioned enormities in the veneration 
of relics and images, and to forbid them. 

" Into these holy and salutary observances should any abuses creep, 
of these the Holy Council strongly [vehementer] desires the utter 
extinction ; so that no images of a false doctrine, and supplying to the 

uninstructed opportunity of perilous error, should be set up 

All superstition also in invocation of saints, veneration of relics, and 
sacred use of images, be put away ; &\\ filthy lucre be cast out of doors ; 
and all wantonness be avoided; so that images be not painted or adorned 
with an immodest beauty ; or the celebration of Saints and attendance 
on Relics be abused to revelries and drunkenness ; as though festival 
days were kept in honour of saints by luxury and lasciviousness," — 
Sess. 25. 

[On the whole, then, by the Romish doctrine of the 
veneration and worshipping of images and relics, the Article 
means all maintenance of those idolatrous honours which 
hav.e been and are paid them so commonly throughout the 
Church of Rome, with the superstitions, profanities, and 
impurities consequent thereupon.] 

4. Invocation of Saints. 

By "invocation" here is not meant the mere circum- 
stance of addressing beings out of sight, because we use 
the Psalms in our daily service, which are frequent in in- 
vocations of Angels to praise and bless God. In the 
Benedicite too we address "the spirits and souls of the 
righteous. ' 

Nor is it a "fond" invocation to pray that unseen beings 
may bless us; [for this Bishop Ken does in his Evening 
Hymn : — 

Invocation of Saints. 39 

O may my Guardian, while I sleep, 
Close to my bed his vigils keep, 
His love angelical instil, 
Stop all the avenues of ill, &c.] ' 

On the other hand, judging from the example set us in 
the Homilies themselves, invocations are not censurable, 
and certainly not "fond," if we mean nothing definite by 
them, addressing them to beings which we know cannot 
hear, and using them as interjections. The Homilist seems 
to avail himself of this proviso in a passage, which will serve 
to begin our extracts in illustration of the superstitious use 
of invocations. 

"We have left Him neither heaven, nor earth, nor water, nor 
country, nor city, peace nor war to rule and govern, neither men, nor 
beasts, nor their diseases to cure; that a godly man might justly, for 
zealous indignation, cry out, O heaven, O earth, and seas^, what 
madness and wickedness against God are men fallen into ! What 
dishonour do the creatures to their Creator and Maker ! And if we 
remember God sometimes, yet, because we doubt of His ability or will 
to help, we join to Him another helper, as if He were a noun 
adjective, using these sayings : such as learn, God and St. Nicholas be 
my speed : such as neese, God help and St. John : to the horse, God 
and St. Loy save thee. Thus are we become like horses and mules, 
which have no understanding. For is there not one God only, who by 
His power and wisdom made all things, and by His providence 
governeth the same, and by His goodness maintaineth and saveth 
them? Be not all things of Him, by Him, and through Him? Why 
dost thou turn from the Creator to the creatures ? This is the 
manner of the Gentiles idolaters : but thou art a Christian, and there- 
fore by Christ alone hast access to God the Father, and help of Him 
only." — Homily on Peril oj Idolatry, p. 189. 

Again, just before : 

" Terentius Varro sheweth, that there were three hundred Jupiters 
in his time : there were no fewer Veneres and Dianas : we had no 
fewer Christophers, Ladies, and Mary Magdalens, and other saints. 
CEnomaus and Hesiodus shew, that in their time there were thirty 
thousand gods. I think we had no fewer saints, to whom we gave the 
honour due to God. And they have not only spoiled the true living 

* [A passage here occurred in 1st edition upon Rev. i. 4, in which the 
author still thinks that " the seven spirits " are seven created angels.] 
' O caelum, o terra, o maria Neptuni. Terent. Adelph. v. 3, 

40 Invocation of Saints. 

God of His due honour in temjjles, cities, countries and lands, by such 
devices and inventions as the Gentiles idolaters have done before 
them : but the sea and waters have as well special saints with them, 
as they had gods with the Gentiles, Neptune, Triton, Nereus, Castor 
and Pollux, Venus, and such other : in whose places be come St. 
Christopher, St, Clement, and divers other, and specially our Lady, to 
whom shipmen sing, 'Ave, maris stella.' Neither hath the fire 
escaped their idolatrous inventions. For, instead of Vulcan and 
Vesta, the Gentiles' gods of the fire, our men have placed St. Agatha, 
and make litters on her day for to quench fire with. Every artificer 
and profession hath his special saint, as a peculiar god. As for 
example, scholars have St. Nicholas and St. Gregory : painters, St. 
Luke ; neither lack soldiers their Mars, nor lovers their Venus, 
amongst Christians. All diseases have their special saints, as gods 

the curers of them ; the falling-evil St. Cornelio, the tooth-ache 

St. Apollin, &c. Neither do beasts nor cattle lack their gods with us; 
for St. Loy is the horse-leech, and St. Anthony the swineherd." — 
Ibid., p. 188. 

The same subject is introduced in connexion with a lament 
over the falling off of attendance on religious worship con- 
sequent upon the Reformation : 

" God's vengeance hath been and is daily provoked, because much 
wicked people pass nothing to resort to the Church, either for that 
they are so sore blinded, that they understand nothing of God and 
godliness, and care not with devilish example to offend their neigh- 
bours ; or else for that they see the Church altogether scoured of such 
gay gozing sights, as their gross fantasy was greatly delighted with, 
because they see the false religion abandoned, and the true restored, 
which seemeth an unsavoury thing to their unsavoury taste ; as may 
appear by this, that a woman said to her neighbour, ' Alas, gossip, 
what shall we now do at church, since all the saints are taken away, 
since all the goodly sights we were wont to have are gone, since we 
cannot hear the like piping, singing, chanting, and playing upon the 
organs, that we could before ?' But, dearly beloved, we ought greatly 
to rejoice, and give God thanks, that our churches are delivered of all 
those things which displeased God so sore, and filthily defiled His 
house and His place of prayer, for the which He hath justly destroyed 
many nations, according to the saying of St. Paul : ' If any man 
defile the temple of God, God will him destroy.' And this ought we 
greatly to praise God for, that superstitions and idolatrous manners as 
were utterly naught, and defaced God's glory, are utterly abolished, 
as they most justly deserved : and yet those things that either Goo 
was honoured with, or His people edified, are decently retained, and in 

Invocation of Saints. 41 

our churches comely practised." — On the Place and Time of Prayer, 
pp. 293, 294. 

Again : 

"There are certain conditions most requisite to be found in every 
such a one that must be called upon, which if they be not found in 
Him unto whom we pray, then doth our prayer avail us nothing, but is 
altogether in vain. 

" The first is this, that He, to whom we make our prayers, be able 
to help us. The second is, that He will help us. The third is, that 
He be such a one as may hear our prayers. The fourth is, that He 
understand better than ourselves what we lack, and how far we have 
need of help. If these things be to be found in any other, saving 
only God, then may we lawfully call upon some other besides God. 
But what man is so gross, but he well understandeth that these 
things are only proper to Him, who is omnipotent, and knoweth all 
things, even the very secrets of the heart ; that is to say, only and to 
God alone? Whereof it foUoweth that we must call neither upon 
angel, nor yet upon saint, but only and solely upon God, as St. Paul 
doth write : ' How shall men call upon Him, in whom they have not 
believed?' So that invocation or prayer may not be made without 
faith in Him on whom they call ; but that we must first believe in Him 
before we can make our prayer unto Him, whereupon we must only 
and solely pray unto God. For to say that we should believe in either 
angel or saint, or in any other living creature, were most horrible 
blasphemy against God and His holy word; neither ought this fancy to 
enter into the heart of any Christian man, because w» are expressly 
taught in the word of the Lord only to repose our faith in the blessed 
Trinity, in whose only name we are also baptized, according to the 
express commandment of our Saviour Jesus Christ, in the last of St. 

" But that the truth thereof may better appear, even to them that be 
most simple and unlearned, let us consider what prayer is. St. 
Augustine calleth it a lifting up of the mind to God ; that is to say, 
an humble and lowly pouring out of the heart to God. Isidorus saith, 
that it is an affection of the heart, and not a labour of the lips. So 
that, by these plans, true prayer doth consist not so much in the 
outward sound and voice of words, as in the inward groaning and 
crying of the heart to God. 

"Now, then, is there any angel, any virgin, any patriarch, or 
prophet, among the dead, that can understand or know the meaning 
of the heart? The Scripture saith, 'it is God that searcheth the 
heart and reins, and that He only knoweth the hearts of the children 
of men.' As for the saints, they have so little knowledge of the 
secrets of the heart, that many of the ancient fathers greatly doubt 

42 Invocation of Saints. 

whether they know any thing at all, that is commonly done on earth. 
And albeit some think they do, yet St. Augustine, a doctor of great 
authority, and also antiquity, hath this opinion of them; that they 
know no more what we do on earth, than we know what they do in 
heaven. For proof whereof, he allegeth the words of Isaiah the 
prophet, where it is said, ' Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel 
Knoweth us not.' His mind therefore is this, not that we should put 
any religion in worshipping them, or praying unto them ; but that we 
should honour them by following their virtuous and godly life. For, 
a*s he witnesseth in another place, the martyrs, and holy men in time 
past, were wont, after their death, to be remembered and named of the 
priest at divine service ; but never to be invocated or called upon. 
And why so? Because the priest, saith he, is God's priest, and not 
theirs : whereby he is bound to call upon God, and not upon them. 

O but I dare not (will some man say) trouble God at all times 

with my prayers : we see that in kings' houses, and courts of princes, 
men cannot be admitted, unless they first use the help and means of 
some special nobleman, to come to the speech of the king, and to 
obtain the thing that they would have. 

"Christ, sitting in heaven, hath an everlasting priesthood, and 
always prayeth to His Father for them that be penitent, obtaining, 
by virtue of His wounds, which are evermore in the sight of God, not 
only perfect remission of our sins, but also all other necessaries that 
we lack in this world ; so that this Holy Mediator is sufficient in 
heaven, and needeth no others to help Him. 

"Invocation is a thing p}oper unto God, which if we attribute unto 
the saints, it soundeth unto their reproach, neither can they well bear 
it at our hands. When Paul healed a certain lame man, which was 
impotent in his feet, at Lystra, the people would have done sacrifice 
unto him and Barnabas ; who, rending their clothes, refused it, and 
exhorted them to worship the true God. Likewise in the Revelation, 
when St. John fell before the angel's feet to worship him, the angel 
would not permit him to do it, but commanded him that he should 
worship God. Which examples declare unto us, that the saints and 
angels in heaven will not have us to do any honour unto them that is 
due and proper unto God." — Homily on Prayer, pp. 272 — 277. 

Whereas, then, it has already been shown that not all 
invocation is wrong, this last passage plainly tells us what 
kind of invocation is not allowable, or what is meant by 
invocation in its exceptionable sense : viz. " a thing proper 
to God," as being part of the " honour that is due and 
proper unto God." And two instances are specially given of 
such calling and invocating, viz., sacrijicinc/, and/ailing down 

Invocation of Saints. 43 

in worship. Besides this, the Homilist adds, that it is 
wrong to pray to them for " necessaries in this world," and 
to accompany their services with " piping, singing, chanting, 
and playing "" on the organ, and of invoking saints as patrons 
of particular elements, countries, arts, or remedies. 

Here again, as before, the Article gains a witness and 
concurrence from the Council of Trqnt. " Though," say 
the divines there assembled, " the Church has been accus- 
tomed sometimes to celebrate a few masses to the honour 
and remembrance of saints, yet she doth not teach that sa- 
crifice is offered to them, but to God alone, who crowned 
them ; wherefore neither is the priest wont to say, / offer 
sacrifice to thee, Peter, or Paul, but to God." (Sess. 22.) 

Or, "to know what is meant by fond invocations, we may 
refer to the following passage of Bishop Andrews''s Answer 
to Cardinal Perron : — 

"This one point is needful to be observed throughout all the 
Cardinal's answer, that he hath framed to himself five distinctions: — 
(1.) Prayer direct, and prayer oblique, or indirect. (2.) Prayer 
absolute, and prayer relative. (3.) Prayer sovereign, and prayer 
subaltern. (4.) Prayer final, and prayer transitory. (5.) Prayer 
sacrificial, and prayer out of, or from the sacrifice. Prayer direct, 
absolute, final, sovereign, sacrificial, that must not be made to the 
saints, biit to God only : but as for prayer oblique, relative, transitory, 
subaltern, from, or out of the sacrifice, that (saith he) we may make to 
the saints. 

" For all the world, like the question in Scotland, which was made 
some fifty years since, whether the Pater noster might not be said to 
saints. For then they in like sort devised the distinction of — (1.) 
Ultimate, et non ultimate. (2.) Principaliter, et minus principaliter. 
(3.) Primarie et secundarie : Capiendo stride et capiendo large. And 
as for ultimate, principaliter, primarie et capiendo stride, they conclude 
it must go to God : but non ultimate, minus principaliter, secundarie, et 
capiendo large, it might be allowed saints. 

" Yet it is sure, that in these distinctions is the whole substance of 
his answer. And whensoever lie is pressed, he flees straight to his 
prayer relative and prayer transitory ; as if prier pour prier were all 
the Church of Rome did hold ; and that they made no prayers to the 
saints, but only to pray for them. The Bishop well remembers, that 
Master Casaubon more than once told him that reasoning with the 
Cardinal, touching the invocation of saints, the Cardinal freely 

44 Invocation of Saints. 

confessed to him that he had never prayed to saint in all his life, save 
only when he happened to follow the procession ; and that then he sung 
Ora pro nobis with the clerks indeed, hut else not, 

" Which Cometh much to this opinion he now seemeth to defend : 
but wherein others of the Church of Rome will surely give him over, 
so that it is to be feared that the Cardinal will be shent for this, and 
some censure come out against him by the Sorbonne. For the world 
cannot believe that oblique relative prayer is all that is sought ; seeing 
it is most evident, by their breviaries, hours, and rosaries, that they 
pray directly, absolutely, and finally to saints, and make no mention at 
all of prier pour prier, to pray to God to forgive them ; but to the 
saints, to give it themselves. So that all he saith comes to nothing. 
They say to the blessed Virgin, ' Sancta Maria,' not only 'Ora pro 
nobis:' but ' Succurre miseris, juva pusillanimes, refove flebiles, 
accipe quod offerimus, dona quod rogamus, excusa quod timenius,' 
&c. &c 

" All which, and many more, shew plainly that the practice of the 
Church of Rome, in this point of invocation of saints, is far otherwise 
than Cardinal Perron would bear the world in hand; and that prier 
pour prier is not all, but that ' Tu dona coelum, Tu laxa, Tu sana, Tu 
solve crimina, Tu due, conduc, indue, perdue ad gloriam ; Tu serva, 
Tu fer opem, Tu aufer, Tu confer vitam,' are said to them {totidem 
verbis) : more than which ca7inot be said to God Himself. And again, 
' Hie nos solvat a peccatis. Hie nostros tergat reatus, Hie arma 
conferat, Hie hostem fuget, Hie gubernet. Hie aptet tuo conspectui;' 
which if they be not direct and absolute, it would be asked of them, 
what is absolute or direct ? " — Bishop Andrews's Answer to Chapter XX. 
of Cardinal Perron's Reply, pp. 57 — 62. 

Bellarmine's admissions quite bear out the principles laid 
down by Bishop Andrews and the Homilist : — 

" It is not lawful," he says, " to ask of the saints to grant to us, as 
if they were the authors of divine benefits, glory or grace, or the other 

means of blessedness This is proved, first, from Scripture, 

* The Lord will give grace and glory.' (Psal. Ixxxiv.) Secondly, 
from the usage of the Church ; for in the mass-prayers, and the saints' 
offices, we never ask any thing else, but that at their prayers, benefits 
may be granted to us by God. Thirdly, from reason : for what we 
need surpasses the powers of the creature, and therefore even of saints; 
therefore we ought to ask nothing of saints beyond their impetrating 
from God what is profitable for us. Fourthly, from Augustine and 
Theodoret, who expressly teach that saints are not to be invoked as 
gods, but as able to gain from God what they wish. However, it must 
be observed, when we say, that nothing should be asked of saints but 

The Sacraments. 4& 

their prayers for us, the question is not about the words, but the sense 
of the words. For, as far as words go, it is lawful to say : * St. Peter, 
pity me, save me, open for me the gate of heaven;' also, 'give me 
health of body, patience, fortitude,' &c., provided that we mean 'save 
and pity me by praying for me ;' ' grant me this or that by thy prayers 
and merits.' For so speaks Gregory Nazianzen, and many others of 
the^ ancients, &c." — De Sanct. Beat. i. 17. 

[By the doctrine of the invocation of saints then, the 
Article means all maintenance of addresses to them which 
intrench upon the incommunicable honour due to God 
alone, such as have been, and are in the Church of Rome, 
and such as, equally with the peculiar doctrine of purgatory, 
pardons, and worshipping and adoration of images and 
relics, as actually taught in that Church, are unknown to the 
Catholic Chui-ch.] 

§ 7. — The Sacraments. 

Art. XXV. — "Those five, commonly called Sacraments, 
that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, 
and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacra- 
ments of the Gospel, being such as have grown, partly of 
the corrupt following (prava imitatione) of the Apostles, 
partly from states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but 
yet have not like nature of sacraments, (sacramentorum 
eandem rationem,) with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 
for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained 
of God;' 

This Article does not deny the five rites in question to 
be sacraments, but to be sacraments in the sense in which 
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are sacraments; "sacra- 
ments of the Gospel^'"'' sacraments with an outward sign 
ordained of God. 

They are not sacraments in any sense, unless the Church 
has the power of dispensing grace through rites of its own 
appointing, or is endued with the gift of blessing and 
hallowing the *' rites or ceremonies" which, according to 

46 The Sacraments. 

the Twentieth Article, it " hath power to decree." But we 
may well believe that the Church has this gift. 

If, then, a sacrament be merely an outward sign of an 
invisible grace given under it, the five rites may be sacra- 
ments ; but if it must be an outward sign ordained hy God 
or Christ, then only Baptism and the Lord's Supper are 

Our Church acknowledges both definitions; — in the Article 
before us, the stricter ; and again in the Catechism, where a 
sacrament is defined to be " an outward visible sign of an 
inward spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained hy Christ 
Himself^'' And this, it should be remarked, is a characteristic 
of our formularies in various places, not to deny the truth 
or obligation of certain doctrines or ordinances, but simply 
to deny, (what no Roman opponent now can successfully 
maintain,) that Christ for certain directly ordained them. 
For instance, in regard to the visible Church it is sufficient 
that the ministration of the sacraments should be " according 
to Christ's ordinance.'''' Art. xix. — And it is added, "in 
all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same." 
The question entertained is, " what is the least that God 
requires of us." Again, "the baptism of young children 
is to be retained, as most agreeable to the institution oj 
Christ." Art. xxvii. — Again, " the sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried 
about, lifted up, or worshipped." Art. xxviii. — Who will 
maintain the paradox that what the Apostles " set in order 
when they came " had been already done by Christ ? Again, 
" both parts of the Lord's sacrament, hy Christ's ordinance 
and commandment, ought to be administered to all Christian 
men alike." Art. xxx. — Again, " bishops, priests, and 
deacons, are not commanded by God's law either to vow the 
estate of single life or to abstain from marriage." Art. 
xxxii. — [Li making this distinction, however, it is not here 
insinuated, though the question is not entered on in these 
particular Articles, that every one of these points, of which 
it is only said that they are not ordained by Christ, is 
justifiable on grounds short of His appointment.] 

The Sacraments. 47 

On the other hand, our Church takes the wider sense 
of the meaning of the word sacrament in the Homilies; 
observing — 

" In the second Book against the Adversary of the Law and the 
Prophets, he [St. Augustine) calleth sacraments holy signs. And 
writing to Bonifacius of the baptism of infants, he saith, * If sacraments 
had not a certain similitude of those things whereof they be sacraments, 
they should be no sacraments at all. And of this similitude they do 
for the most part receive the names of the self-same things they 
signify.' By these words of St. Augustine it appeareth, that he 
alloweth the common description of a sacrament, which is, that it is a 
visible sign of an invisible grace ; that is to say, that setteth out to the 
eyes and other outward senses the inward working of God's free 
mercy, and doth, as it were, seal in our hearts the promises of God."— 
Homily on Common Prayer and Sacraments, pp. 296, 297. 

Accordingly, starting with this definition of St. Augus- 
tine's, the writer is necessarily carried on as follows : — 

" You shall hear how many sacraments there be, that were instituted 
by our Saviour Christ, and are to be continued, and received of 
every Christian in due time and order, and for such purpose as our 
Saviour Christ willed them to be received. And as for the number 
of them, if they should be considered according to the exact signifi- 
cation of a sacrament, namely, for visible signs expressly commanded 
in the New Testament, whereunto is annexed the promise of free 
forgiveness of our sins, and of our holiness and joining in Christ, 
there be but two ; namely, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord. For 
although absolution hath the promise of forgiveness of sin; yet by the 
express word of the New Testament, it hath not this promise annexed 
and tied to the visible sign, which is imposition of hands. For this 
visible sign (I mean laying on of hands) is not expressly commanded 
in the New Testament to be used in absolution, as the visible signs in 
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are : and therefore absolution is no 
such sacrament as Baptism and the Communion are. And though the 
ordering of ministers hath this visible sign and promise ; yet it lacks 
the promise of remission of sin, as all other sacraments besides the 
two above named do. Therefore neither it, nor any other sacrament 
else, be such sacraments as Baptism and the Communion are. But in 
a general acception, the name of a sacrament may be attributed to any 
thing, whereby an holy thing is signified. In which understanding of 
the word, the ancient writers have given this name, not only to the 
other five, commonly of late years taken and used for supplying the 
number of the seven sacraments ; but also to divers and sundry other 

48 The Sacraments. 

ceremonies, as to oil, washing of feet, and such like; not meaning 
thereby to repute them as sacraments, in the same signification that the 
two forenamed sacraments are. And therefore St. Augustine, weighing 
the true signification and exact meaning of the word, writing to 
Januarius, and also in the third Book of Christian Doctrine, affirmeth, 
that the sacraments of the Christians, as they are most excellent in 
signification, so are they most few in number, and in both places 
maketh mention expressly of two, the sacrament of Baptism, and the 
Supper of the Lokd. And although there are retained by order of the 
Church of England, besides these two, certain other rites and 
ceremonies, about the institution of ministers in the Church, Matrimony, 
Confirmation of Children, by examining them of their knowledge in 
the Articles of the Faith, and joining thereto the prayers of the 
Church for them, and likewise for the Visitation of the Sick ; yet no 
man ought to take these for sacraments, in such signification and 
meaning as the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper are : 
but either for godly states of life, necessary in Christ's Church, and 
therefore worthy to be set forth by public action and solemnity, by 
the ministry of the Church, or else judged to be such ordinances as 
may make for the instruction, comfort, and edification of Christ's 
Church." — Homily on Common Prayer and Sacraments, pp. 298 — 300. 

Another definition of the word sacrament, which equally 
succeeds in limiting it to the two principal rites of the 
Christian Church, is also contained in the Catechism, as 
well as alluded to in the above passage : — " Two only, as 
generally necessary to salvation, Baptism and the Supper of 
the Lord." On this subject the following remark has been 
made : — 

" The Eoman Catholic considers that there are seven 
[sacraments] ; we do not strictly determine the number. 
We define the word generally to be an ' outward sign of an 
inward grace,' without saying to how many ordinances this 
applies. However, what we do determine is, that Christ 
has ordained two special sacraments, as generally necessary 
to salvation. This, then, is the characteristic mark of those 
two, separating them from all other whatever ; and this is 
nothing else but saying in other words that they are the 
on\y Justifying rites, or instruments of communicating the 
Atonement, which is the one thing necessary to us. Ordi- 
nation, for instance, gives power, yet without making the 

Transubstantiation. 49 

soul acceptable to God ; Confirmation gives light and 
strength, yet is the mere coynpletion of Baptism ; and Abso- 
lution may be viewed as a negative ordinance removing the 
barrier which sin has raised between us and that grace, 
which by inheritance is ours. But the two sacraments ' of 
the Gospel/ as they may be emphatically styled, are the 
instruments of inward life, according td our Lord's de- 
claration, that Baptism is a new birth, and that in the 
Eucharist we eat the living bread."" 

§ 8. — Transubstantiation. 

Article xxviii. — " Transubstantiation, or the change of 
the substance of bread and wine, in the Supper of the Lord, 
cannot be proved by Holy Writ ; but is repugnant to the 
plain words of Scripture, overthrovveth the nature of a sacra- 
ment, and hath given occasion to many superstitions." 

What is here opposed as " Transubstantiation," is the 
shocking doctrine that " the body of Chrtst," as the Article 
goes on to express it, is not " given, taken, and eaten, after 
an heavenly and spiritual manner, but is carnally pressed 
with the teeth ;" that It is a body or substance of a certain 
extension and bulk in space, and a certain figure and due 
disposition of parts, whereas we hold that the only substance 
such, is the bread which we see. 

This is plain from Article xxix., which quotes St. Au- 
gustine as speaking of the wicked as "carnally and visibly 
pressing with their teeth the sacrament of the body and 
blood of Christ," not the real substance, a statement 
which even the Breviary introduces into the service for 
Corpus Christi day. 

This is plain also from the words of the Homily : — 
" Saith Cyprian, ' When we do these things, we need not 
whet our teeth, but with sincere faith we break and divide 
that holy bread. It is well known that the meat we seek in 


50 Transuhstantiation. 

this supper is spiritual food, the nourishment of the soul, a 
heavenly refection, and not earthly ; an invisible meat, and 
not a bodily ; a ghostly substance, and not carnaV " 

Some extracts may be quoted to the same effect from 
Bishop Taylor. Speaking of what has been believed in the 
Church of Rome, he says : — 

" Sometimes Christ hath appeared in His own shape, and blood 
and flesh hath been pulled out of the mouths of the communicants : 
and Plegilus, the priest, saw an angel, showing Christ to him in form 
of a child upon the altar, whom first he took in his arms and kissed, 
but did eat him up presently in his other shape, in the shape of a 
wafer, ' Speciosa certe pax nebulonis, ut qui oris praebuerat basium, 
dentium inferret exitium,' said Berengarius : ' It was but a Judas' 
kiss to kiss with the lip, and bite with the teeth.'" — Bp. Taylor, 
vol. X. p. 12. 

Again : — 

" Yet if this and the other miracles pretended, had not been illusions 
or directly fabulous, it had made very much against the present 
doctrine of the Roman Church ; for they represent the body in such 
measure, as by their explications it is not, and it cannot be : they 
represent it broken, a finger, or a piece of flesh, or bloody, or 
bleeding, or in the form of an infant ; and then, when it is in the 
species of bread : for if, as they say, Christ's body is present no 
longer than the form of bread remained, how can it be Christ's body 
in the miracle, when the species being gone, it is no longer a sacra- 
ment? But the dull inventors of miracles in those ages considered 
nothing of this ; the article itself was then gross and rude, and so were 
the instruments of probation. I noted this, not only to show at what 
door so incredible a persuasion entered, but that the zeal of prevailing 
in it hath so blinded the refiners of it in this age, that they still 
urge those miracles for proof, when, if they do any thing at all, 
they reprove the present doctrine." — Bp. Taylor's Works, vol. ix. 
p. ccccxi. 

Again : the change which is denied in the Article is ac- 
curately specified in another passage of the same author : — 

" I will not insist upon the unworthy questions which this carnal 
doctrine introduces . . . neither will I make scrutiny concerning 
Christ's bones, hair, and nails ; nor suppose the Roman priests to be 
such Kapxa^olovTtq, and to have such 'saws in their mouths:' these 
are appendages of their persuasion, but to be abominated by all 
Christian and modest persons, who use to eat not the bodies but the 

Transu hsta ntia Hon . 6 1 

flesh of beasts, and not to devour, but to worship the body of Christ in 
the exaltation, and now in union with His divinity." — On the Real 
Presence, 11. 

And again : — 

"They that deny the spiritual sense, and affirm the natural, arc to 
remember that Christ reproved all senses of these words that were 
not spiritual. And by the way let me observe, that the expressions of 
some chief men among the Romanists are so rude and crass, that it 
will be impossible to excuse them from the understanding the words in the 
sense of the men of Capernaum ; for, as they understood Christ to 
mean His * true flesh natural and proper,' so do they: as they thought 
Christ intended they should tear Him with their teeth and suck His 
blood, for which they were offended ; so do these men not only think 
so, but say so, and are not offended. So said Alanus, ' Apertissime 
loquimur, corpus Christi vere a nobis contrectari, manducaii, circum- 
gestari, dentibus teri [ground by ike teeth'\, sensibiliter sacrijicari 
[^sensibly sacrificed], non minus quam ante consecrationem panis,' [not 
less than the bread before consecration] ... I thought that the Ro- 
manists had been glad to separate their own opinion from the carnal 
conceit of the men of Capernaum and the offended disciples .... 
but I find that Bellarmine owns it, even in them, in their rude 
circumstances, for he affirms that 'Christ corrected them not for 
supposing so, but reproved them for not believing it to be so.' And 
indeed himself says as much: 'The body of Christ is truly and 
properly manducated or chewed,^\i\i the bread inthe Eucharist;' and 
to take off the foulness of the expression, by avoiding a worse, he is 
pleased to speak nonsense : ' A thing may be manducated or chewed, 
thougli it be not attrite or broken.' . . . But Bellarmine adds, that it 
you will not allow him to say so, then he grants it in plain terms, that 
Christ's body is chewed, is attrite, or broken with the teeth, and that 
not tropically, but properly. . . . How? under the species of bread, 
and invisibly." — Ibid. 3. 

Take again the statement of Usslier : — 

" Paschasius Radbertus, who was one of the first setters forward of 
this doctrine in the West, spendeth a large chapter upon this point, 
wherein he telleth us, that Christ in the sacrament did show himself 
' oftentimes in a visible shape, either in the form of a lamb, or in the 
colour of flesh and blood ; so that while the host was a breaking or an 
offering, a lamb in the priest's hands, and blood in the chalice should 
be seen as it were flowing from the sacrifice, that what lay hid in a 
mystery might to them that yet doubted be made manifest in a 
miracle.' .... The first [tale] was .... of a Roman matron, who 
found a piece of the sacramental bread turned into the fashion of a 

E 2 

52 Transubstaniiaiion. 

finger, all bloody; which afterwards, upon the prayers of St. Gregory, 
was converted to its former shape again. The other two were first 

coined by the Grecian liars The former of these is not only 

related there, but also in the legend of Simeon Metaphrastes (which is 
such another author among the Grecians as Jacobus de Voragine was 
among the Latins) in the life of Arsenius, .... how that a little 
child was seen upon the altar, and an angel cutting him into small 
pieces with a knife, and receiving his blood into the chalice, as long 
as the priest was breaking the bread into little parts. The latter is of 
a certain Jew, receiving the sacrament at St. Basil's hands, converted 
visibly into true flesh and blood."— C/ssAer's Answer to a Jesuit, pp. 

Or the following : — 

" When St. Odo was celebrating the mass in the presence of certain 
of the clergy of Canterbury, (who maintained that the bread and wine, 
after consecration, do remain in their former substance, and are not 
Christ's true body and blood, but a figure of it:) when he was come 
to confraction, presently the fragments of the body of Christ which 
he held in his hands, began to pour forth blood into the chalice. 
Whereupon he shed tears of joj'; and beckoning to them that wavered 
in their faith, tp come near and see the wonderful work of God ; as 
soon as they beheld it they cried out, ' O holy Prelate ! to whom the 
Son of God has been pleased to reveal Himself visibly in the flesh, 
pray for us, that the blood we see here present to our eyes, may again 
be changed, lest for our unbelief the Divine vengeance fall upon us.' 
He prayed accordingly ; after which, looking in the chalice, he saw 
the species of bread and wine, where he had left blood 

" St. Wittekundus, in the administration of the Eucharist, saw a 
child enter into every one's mouth, playing and smiling when some 
received him, and with an abhorring countenance when he went into 
the mouths of others; Christ thus showing this saint in His coun- 
tenance, who were worthy, and who unworthy receivers." — Johnson's 
Miracles of Saints, pp. 27, 28. 

The same doctrine was imposed by Nicholas the Second 
on Berengarius, as the confession of the latter shows, 
which runs thus : — 

" I, Berengarius .... anathematize every heresy, and more par- 
ticularly that of which I have hitherto been accused .... I agree 
with the Roman Church .... that the bread and wine which are 
placed on the altar are, after consecration, not only a sacrament, but 
even the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that 
these are sensibly, and not merely sacramentally, but in truth, handled 

Transubstantiaiion. 53 

land broken, by the hands of the priest, and ground by the teeth of the 
faithful." — Bowden's Life of Gregory VII., vol. ii. p. 243. 

Another illustration of the sort of doctrine offered in the 
Article, may be given from Bellarmine, whose controversial 
statements have already been introduced in the course of 
the above extracts. He thus opposes the doctrine of in- 
trosusception, which the spiritual view of the Real Presence 
naturally suggests : — 

He observes, that there are "two particular opinions, 
false and erroneous, excogitated in the schools : that of 
Durandus, who thought it probable that the substance of 
the body of Christ in the Eucharist, was without magnitude ; 
and that of certain ancients, which Occam seems afterwards 
to have followed, that though it has magnitude, (which they 
think not really separable from substance,) yet every part 
is so penetrated by every other, that the body of Christ is 
tcitkout figure, without distinction and order of parts." 
With this he contrasts the doctrine which, he maintains, is 
that of the Church of Rome as well as the general doctrine 
of the schools, that " in the Eucharist whole Christ exists 
with magnitude and all accidents, except that relation to a 
heavenly location which He has as He is in heaven, and 
those things which are concomitants on His existence in 
that location ; and that the parts and members of Christ's 
body do not penetrate each other, but are so distinct and 
arranged one with another, as to have a figure and order 
suitable to a human body."— i)^ Euchar. iii. 5. 

We see then, that, by transubstantiaiion, our Article 
does not confine itself to any abstract theory, nor aim at 
any definition of the word substance, nor in rejecting it, 
rejects a word, nor in denying a "mutatio panis et vini," is 
denying every kind of change, but opposes itself to a certain 
plain and unambiguous statement, not of this or that council, 
but one generally received or taught both in the schools and 
in the multitude, that the material elements are changed 
into an earthly, fleshly, and organized body, extended in 
size, distinct in its parts, which is there where the outward 

64! Transuhstantiation. 

appearances of bread and wine are, and only does not meet 
the senses, nor even that always. 

Objections against "substance," "nature," "change," 
" accidents," and the Hke, seem more or less questions of 
words, and inadequate expressions of the great offence 
which we find in the received Roman view of this sacred 

In this connexion it may be suitable to proceed to notice 
the Explanation appended to the Communion Service, of 
our kneeling at the Lokd^s Supper, which requires expla- 
nation itself, more perhaps than any part of our formularies. 
It runs as follows : — 

"Whereas it is ordained in this office for the Ad- 
ministration of the Lord's Supper, that the communicants 
should receive the same kneeling: (which order is well 
meant, for a signification of our humble and grateful ac- 
knowledgement of the benefits of Christ therein given to 
all worthy receivers, and for the avoiding of such profanation 
and disorder in the holy communion, as might otherwise 
ensue ;) yet, lest the same kneeling should by any persons, 
either out of ignorance and infirmity, or out of malice and 
obstinacy, be misconstrued and depraved, — It is hereby 
declared, that thereby no adoration is intended, or ought to 
be done, either unto the sacramental bread or wine there 
bodily received, or unto any corporal presence of Christ''s 
natural flesh and blood. For the sacramental bread and 
wine remain still in their very natural substances, and 
therefore may not be adored, (for that were idolatry, to be 
abhorred of all faithful Christians;) and the natural body 
and blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven, and not 
here, it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to 
be at one time in more places than one." 

Now it may be admitted without difficulty, — 1. That " no 
adoration ought to be done unto the sacramental bread and 
wine there bodily received." 2. Nor "unto any corporal 
(i. e. carnal) presence of Christ's natural flesh and blood." 

Transuhstantiation. 55 

3. That " the sacramental bread and wine remain still in 
their very natural substances." 4. That to adore them 
" were idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians ;" 
and 5. That " the natural body and blood of our Saviour 
Christ are in heaven."" 

But " to heaven " is added, " and not herey Now, though 
it be allowed that there is no " corporal presence " [i. e. 
carnal] of " Christ's natural flesh and blood " here, it is a 
further point to allow that " Christ's natural body and 
blood"" are '"'■not here.'''' And the question is, how can there 
be any presence at all of His body and blood, yet a presence 
such, as not to be here ? How can there be any presence, 
yet not local? 

Yet that this is the meaning of the paragraph in question 
is plain, from what it goes on to say in proof of its position : 
" It being against the truth of Christ"'s natural body to be 
at one time in more places than one."" It is here asserted 
then, 1 . Generally, " no natural body can be in more places 
than one ;"" therefore, 2. Christ's natural body cannot be 
in the bread and wine, or there where the bread and wine 
are seen. In other words, there is no local presence in the 
Sacrament. Yet, that there is a presence is asserted in the 
Homilies, as quoted above, and the question is, as just 
now stated, " How can there be a presence, yet not a local 

Now, first, let it be observed that the question to be 
solved is the truth of a certain philosophical deduction, not 
of a certain doctrine of Scripture. That there is a real 
presence. Scripture asserts, and the Homilies, Catechism, 
and Communion Service confess ; but the explanation before 
us adds, that it is philosophically impossible that it should 
be a particular kind of presence, a presence of which one 
can say " it is here," or which is " local."" It states then a 
philosophical deduction ; but to such deduction none of us 
have subscribed. We have professed in the words of the 
Canon : " That the Book of Prayer, &c. containeth in it 
nothing contrary to the word of Gody Now, a position like 
this may not be, and is not, " contrary to the word of 

56 Transuhstantiation. 

God," and yet need not be true ; e. g. we may accept St. 
Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians, as containing nothing 
contrary to Scripture, nay, as altogether most scriptural, 
and yet this would not hinder us from rejecting the account 
of the Phoenix — as contrary, not to God's word, but to 
matter of fact. Even the infallibility of the Roman see is 
not considered to extend to matters of fact or points of 
philosophy. Nay, we commonly do not consider that we 
need take the words of Scripture itself literally about the 
sun's standing still, or the earth being fixed, or the firma- 
ment being above. Those at least who distinguish between 
what is theological in Scripture and what is scientific, and 
yet admit that Scripture is true, have no ground for 
wondering at such persons as subscribe to a paragraph, of 
which at the same time they disallow the philosophy ; 
especially considering they expressly subscribe it only as 
not "contrary to the word of God." This then is what 
must be said first of all. 

Next, the philosophical position is itself capable of a very 
specious defence. The truth is, we do not at all know 
what is meant by distance or intervals absolutely, any more 
than we know what is meant by absolute time. Late dis- 
coveries in geology have tended to make it probable that 
time may under circumstances go indefinitely faster or 
slower than it does at present ; or in other words, that in- 
definitely more may be accomphshed in a given portion of 
it. What Moses calls a day, geologists wish to prove to be 
thousands of years, if we measure time by the operations at 
present effected in it. It is equally difficult to determine 
what we mean by distance, or why we should not be at this 
moment close to the throne of God, though we seem far 
from it. Our measure of distance is our hand or our foot ; 
but as an object a foot off is not called distant, though the 
interval is indefinitely divisible ; neither need it be distant 
either, after it has been multiplied indefinitely. Why should 
any conventual measure of ours — why should the percep- 
tions of our eyes or our ears, be the standard of presence or 
distance? Christ may really be close to us, though in 

Transubstantiaiion. 57 

heaven, and His presence in the Sacrament may but be a 
manifestation to the worshipper of that nearness, not a 
change of place, which may be unnecessary. I3ut on this 
subject some extracts may be suitably made from a pamphlet 
published several years since, and admitting of one or two 
verbal corrections, which, as in the case of other similar 
quotations above, shall here be made without scruple : — 

" In the note at the end of the Communion Service, it \i 
argued, that a body cannot be in two places at once ; and 
that therefore the Body of Christ is not locally present, in 
the sense in which vie speak of the bread as being locally 
present. On the other hand, in the Communion Service 
itself. Catechism, Articles, and Homilies, it is plainly de- 
clared, that the Body of Christ is in a mysterious way, if 
not locally^ yet really present, so that we are able after 
some ineffable manner to receive It. Whereas, then, the 
objection stands, ' Christ is not really here, because He is 
not locally here,' our formularies answer, ' He is really here, 
yet not locally.*" 

" But it may be asked. What is the meaning of saying 
that Christ is really present, yet not locally ? I will make 
a suggestion on the subject. What -do we mean by being 
-present ? How do we define and measure it ? To a blind 
and deaf man, that only is present which he touches : give 
him hearing, and the range of things present enlarges ; 
every thing is present to him which he hears. Give him at 
length sight, and the sun may be said to be present to him 
in the day-time, and myriads of stars by night. The pre- 
sence, then, of a thing is a relative word, depending, in a 
popular sense of it, upon the channels of communication 
between it and him to whom it is present ; and thus it is a 
word of degree. 

" Such is the meaning of presence, when used of material 
objects ; — very different from this is the conception we form 
of the presence of spirit with spirit. The most intimate 
presence we can fancy is a spiritual presence in the soul ; it 
is nearer to us than any material object can possibly be ; 
for our body, which is the organ of conveying to us the pre- 

58 Transuhstantiation. 

sence of matter, sets bounds to its approach towards U3. 
If, then, spiritual beings can be brought near to us, (and 
that they can, we know, from what is told us of the in- 
fluences of Divine grace, and again of evil angels upon our 
souls,) their presence is something sui generis^ of a more 
perfect and simple character than any presence we com- 
monly call local. And further, their presence has nothing 
to do with the degrees of nearness ; they are either present 
or not present, or, in other words, their coming is not 
measured by space, nor their absence ascertained by dis- 
tance. In the case of things material, a transit through 
space is the necessary condition of approach and presence ; 
but in things spiritual, (whatever be the condition,) such a 
transit seems not to be a condition. The condition is un- 
known. Once more : while beings simply spiritual seem 
not to exist in place, the Incarnate Son does ; according to 
our Church's statement already alluded to, that 'the na- 
tural body and blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven 
and not here, it being against the truth of Christ's natural 
body to be at one time in more places than one.'' 

" Such seems to be the mystery attending our Lord and 
Saviour; He has a io(/y, and that spiritual. He is in 
place ; and yet, as being a spirit. His mode of approach — 
the mode in which He makes Himself present here or there 
— may be, for what we know, as different from the mode in 
which material bodies approach and come, as a spiritual 
presence is more perfect. As material bodies approach by 
moving from place to place, so the approach and presence 
of a spiritual body may be in some other way, — probably is 
in some other way, since in some other way, (as it would 
appear) not gradual, progressive, approximating, that is, 
locomotive, but at once, spirits become present, — may be 
such as to be consistent with His remaining on God's right 
hand while He becomes present here, — that is, it may be 
real yet not local, or, in a word, is mysterious. The Body 
and Blood of Christ may be really, literally present in the 
holy Eucharist, yet not having become present by local 
passage, may still literally and really be on God's right 

Transuhstantiation. 59 

hand ; so that, though they be present in deed and truth, 
it may be impossible, it may be untrue to say, that they are 
literally in the elements, or about them, or in the soul of 
the receiver. These may be useful modes of speech ac- 
cording to the occasion ; but the true determination of all 
such questions may be this, that Christ's Body and Blood 
are locally at God's right hand, yet really ■present here, — 
present here, but not here in place, — because they are spirit. 
" To assist our conceptions on this subject, I would recur 
to what I said just now about the presence of material 
objects, by way of putting my meaning in a different point 
of view. The presence of a material object, in the popular 
sense of the word, is a matter of degree, and ascertained by 
the means of apprehending it which belong to him to whom 
it is present. It is in some sense a correlative of the senses. 
A fly may be as near an edifice as a man ; yet we do not 
call it present to the fly, because it cannot see it ; and we 
call it present to the man because he can. This, however, 
is but a popular view of the matter : when we consider it 
carefully, it certainly is difficult to say what is meant by 
the presence of a material object relatively to us. It is in 
some respects truer to say that a thing is present, which is 
so circumstanced as to act upon us and influence us, whether 
we are sensible of it or not. Now this is what the Catholic 
Church seems to hold concerning our Lord's Presence in 
the Sacrament, that He then personally and bodily is with 
us in the way an object is which we call present ; how He 
is so, we know not, but that He should be so, though He 
be millions of miles a^vay, is not more inconceivable than 
the influence of eyesight upon us is to a blind man. The 
stars are millions of miles off, yet they impress ideas upon 
our souls through our sight. We know but of five senses : 
we know not whether or not human nature be capable of 
more ; we know not whether or not the soul possesses any 
thing analogous to them. We know nothing to negative 
the notion that the soul may be capable of having Christ 
present to it by the stimulating of dormant, or the develop- 
ment of possible energies. 

60 Transubsianiiatlon. 

" As sight for certain purposes annihilates space, so other 
unknown capacities, bodily or spiritual, may annihilate it 
for other purposes. Such a practical annihilation was in- 
volved in the appearance of Christ to St. Paul on his con- 
version. Such a practical annihilation is involved in the 
doctrine of Christ's ascension ; to speak according to the 
ideas of space and time commonly received, what must have 
been the rapidity of that motion by which, within ten days, 
He placed our human nature at the right hand of God ? Is 
it more mysterious that He should ' open the heavens,"' to 
use the Scripture phrase, in the sacramental rite ; that He 
should then dispense with time and space, in the sense in 
which they are daily dispensed with, in the sun''s warming 
us at the distance of 100,000,000 of miles, than that He 
should have dispensed with them on occasion of His as- 
cending on high ? He who showed what the passage of an 
incorruptible body was ere it had reached God's throne, 
thereby suggests to us what may be its coming back and 
presence with us now, when at length glorified and become 
a spirit. 

" In answer, then, to the problem, how Christ comes to 
us while remaining on high, I answer just as much as this, 
— that He comes by the agency of the Holy Ghost, in 
and hy the Sacrament, Locomotion is the means of a ma- 
terial Presence ; the Sacrament is the means of His spi- 
ritual Presence. As faith is the means of our receiving It, 
so the Holy Ghost is the Agent and the Sacrament the 
means of His imparting It ; and therefore we call It a 
Sacramental Presence. We kneel before His heavenly 
Throne, and the distance is as nothing ; it is as if that 
Throne were the Altar close to us. 

" Let it be carefully observed, that I am not proving or 
determining any thing ; I am only showing how it is that 
certain propositions which at first sight seem contradictions 
in terms, are not so, — I am but pointing out one way of re- 
conciling them. If there is but one way assignable, the 
force of all antecedent objection against the possibility ot 
any at all is removed, and then of course there may be 

Masses. 61 

other ways supposable though not assignable. It seems at 
first sight a mere idle use of words to say that Christ is 
really and literally, yet not locally, present in the Sacra- 
ment ; that He is there given to us, not in figure but in 
truth, and yet is still only on the right hand of God. I 
have wished to remove this seeming impossibility. 

" If it be asked, why attempt to remove it, I answer that 
I have no wish to do so, if persons will not urge it against 
the Catholic doctrine. Men maintain it as an impossibility, 
a contradiction in terms, and force a believer in it to say 
why it should not be so accounted. And then when he 
gives a reason, they turn round and accuse him of subtleties, 
and refinements, and scholastic trifling. Let them but be- 
lieve and act on the truth that the consecrated bread is 
Christ''s body, as He says, and no officious comment on 
His words will be attempted by any well-judging mind. 
But when they say, ' this cannot be literally true, became it 
is impossible ;"* then they force those who think it is lite- 
rally true, to explain how, according to their notions, it is 
not impossible. And those who ask hard questions must 
put up with hard answers." 

There is nothing, then, in the Explanatory Paragraph 
which has given rise to these remarks, to interfere with the 
doctrine, elsewhere taught in our formularies, of a real 
super-local presence in the Holy Sacrament. 

§ 9. — Masses. 

Article xxxi. — " The sacrifices (sacrificia) of Masses, in 
the which it was commonly said, that the priest did oflfer 
Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain 
or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits 
(perniciosai imposturse)."" 

Nothing can show more clearly than this passage that 
the Articles are not written against the creed of the Roman 

62 Masses, 

Church, but against actual existing errors in it, whether 
taken into its system or not. Here the sacrifice of the 
Mass is not spoken of, in which the special question of 
doctrine would be introduced ; but " the sacrifice of Masses,'''' 
certain observances, for the most part private and solitary, 
which the writers of the Articles knew to have been in force 
in time past, and saw before their eyes, and which involved 
certain opinions and a certain teaching. Accordingly the 
passage proceeds, " in which it was commonly said ,•""' which 
surely is a strictly historical mode of speaking. 

If any testimony is necessary in aid of what is so plain 
from the wording of the Article itself, it is found in the 
drift of the following passage from Burnet : — 

" It were easy from all the rituals of the ancients to shew, that they 
had none of those ideas that are now in the Roman Church. They 
had but one altar in a Church, and probably but one in a city : they 
had but one communion in a day at that altar: so far were they from 
the many altars in every church, and the many masses at every altar, 
that are now in the Roman Church. They did not know what solitary 
masses were, without a communion. All the liturgies and all the 
writings of ancients are as express in this matter as is possible. The 
whole constitution of their worship and discipline shews it. Their 
worship always concluded with the Eucharist : such as were not 
capable of it, as the catechumens, and those who were doing public 
penance for their sins, assisted at the more general parts of the 
worship ; and so much of it was called their mass, because they were 
dismissed at the conclusion of it. When that was done, then the 
faithful stayed, and did partake of the Eucharist; and attlie conclusion 
of it they were likewise dismissed, from whence it came to be called 
the mass of the faithful." — Burnet on the XXXIst Article, p. 482. 

These sacrifices are said to be " blasphemous fables and 
pernicious impostures." Now the " blasphemous fable " is 
the teaching that there is a sacrifice for sin other than 
Christ's death, and that masses are that sacrifice. And 
the " pernicious imposture " is the turning this belief into a 
means of filthy lucre. 

1. That the "blasphemous fable" is the teaching that 
masses are sacrifices for sin distinct from the sacrifice of 
Christ's death, is plain from the first sentence of the Article. 

Masses. 63 

"The offering of Christ once made^ is that perfect re- 
demption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of 
the whole worlds loth original and actual. And there is none 
other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the 
sacrifice of masses, fcc." It is observable too that the 
heading of the Article runs, " Of the one oblation of Christ 
finished upon the Cross," which interprets the drift of the 
statement contained in it about masses. 

Our Communion Service shows it also, in which the 
prayer of consecration commences pointedly with a decla- 
ration, which has the force of a protest, that Christ made 
on the cross, "by His one oblation of Himself once offered, 
a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfac- 
tion for the sins of the whole world." 

And again in the offering of the sacrifice : " We entirely 
desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept our sacrifice 
of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching Thee 
to grant that hy tJie merits and d^ath of Thy Son Jesus 
Christ, and through faith in His blood, we and all Thy 
whole Church may obtain remission of our sins and all other 
benefits of His passion."" 

[And in the notice of the celebration : " I purpose, 
through God''s assistance, to administer to all such as shall 
be religiously and devoutly disposed, the most comfortable 
Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by 
them received in remembrance of His meritorious Cross 
and Passion ; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, 
and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven."] 

But the popular charge still urged against the Roman 
system, as introducing in the Mass a second or rather con- 
tinually recurring atonement, is a sufficient illustration, 
without further quotations, of this part of the Article. 

2. That the "blasphemous and pernicious imposture" is 
the turning the Mass into a gain, is plain from such pas- 
sages as the following : — 

" With what earnestness, with what vehement zeal, did our Saviour 
Christ drive the buyers and sellers out of the temple of God, and 
hurled down the tables of the changers of money, and the seats of the 

64 Masses. 

dove-sellers, and could not abide that a man should carry a vessel 
through the temple. He told them, that they had made His Father's 
house a den of thieves, partly through their superstition, hypocrisy, 
false worship, false doctrine, and insatiable covetousness, and partly 
through contempt, abusing that place with walking and talking, with 
worldly matters, without all fear of God, and due reverence to that 
place. What dens of thieves the Churches of England have been 
made by the blasphemous buying and selling the most precious body and 
blood of Christ in the Mass, as the world was made to believe, at 
dirges, at months minds, at trentalls, in abbeys and chantries, besides 
other hoi'rible abuses, (God's holy name be blessed for ever,) which 
we now see and understand. All these abominations they that supply 
the room of Christ have cleansed and purged the Churches of 
England of, taking away all such fulsomeness and filthiness, as 
through blind devotion and ignorance hath crept into the Church 
these many hundred years." — On repairing and keeping clean of 
Churches, pp. 229, 230. 

Other passages are as follow : — 

" Have not the Christians of late days, and even in our days also, 
in like manner provoked the' displeasure and indignation of AlIhighty 
God; partly because they have profaned and defiled their Churches 
with heathenish and Jewish abuses, with images and idols, with 
numbers of altars, too superstitiously and intolerably abused, with 
gross abusing and filthy corrupting of the Lord's holy Supper, the 
blessed sacrament of His body and blood, with an infinite number 
of toys and trifles of their own devices, to make a goodly outward 
shew, and to deface the homely, simple, and sincere religion of Christ 
Jesus; partly, they resort to the Church like hypocrites, full of all 
iniquity and sinful life, having a vain and dangerous fancy and 
persuasion, that if they come to the Church, besprinkle them with 
holy water, hear a mass, and be blessed with a chalice, though they 
understand not one word of the whole service, nor feel one motion of 
repentance in their heart, all is well, all is sure?" — On the Place and 
Time of Prayer, T^. 293. 

Again : — 

" What hath been the cause of this gross idolatry, but the ignorance 
hereof? What hath been the cause of this mummish massing, but the 
ignorance hereof? Yea, what hath been, and what is at this day the 
cause of this want of love and charity, but the ignorance hereof? Let 
us therefore so travel to understand the Lord's Supper, that we be no 
cause of the decay of God's worship, of no idolatry, of no dumb 
massing, of no hate and malice ; so may we the bolder have access 

Masses. 65 

thither to our comfort." — Homily concerning the Sacrament^ pp. 377, 


To the same purpose is the following passage from Bishop 
Bull's Sermons : — 

" It were easy to shew, how the whole frame of reh'gion and doc- 
trine of the Church of Rome, as it is distinguished from that Christianity 
which we hold in common with tliem, is evidently designed and 
conti-ived to serve the interest arid profit of them that rule that Church, 
hy the disservices, yea, and ruin of those souls that are under their 
government What can the doctrine of men's playing an after- 
game for their salvation in purgatory be designed for, but to enhance 
the price of the priest's masses and dirges for the dead? Why must a 
solitary mass, bought for a piece of money, performed and participated 
by a priest alone, in a private corner of a church, be, not only against 
the sense of Scripture and the Primitive Church, but also against 
common sense and grammar, called a Communion, and be accounted 
useful to him that buys it, though he never himself receive the 
sacrament, or but once a year ; but for this reason, that there is 
great gain, but no godliness at all, in this doctrine?" — Bp. Bull's 
Sermons, p. 10. 

And Burnet says : — 

" Without going far in tragical expressions, we cannot hold saying 
what our Saviour said upon another occasion. ' My house is a house 
of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.' A trade was set up 
on this foundation. The world was made believe, that by the virtue of 
so many masses, which were to be purchased by great endowments, souls 
were redeemed out of purgatory, and scenes of visions and apparitions, 
sometimes of the tormented, and sometimes of the delivered souls, 
were published in all places : which had so wonderful an effect, tha' 
in two or three centuries, endowments increased to so vast a degree, 
that if the scandals of the clergy on the one hand, and the statutes of 
mortmain on the other, had not restrained the profuseness that the 
world was wrought up to on this account, it is not easy to imagine how 
far this might have gone; perhaps to an entire subjecting of the 
temporality to the spirituality. The practices by which this was 
managed, and the effects that followed on it, we can call by no other 
name than downright impostures ; worse than the making or vending 
false coin : when the world was drawn in by such arts to plain 
bargains, to redeem their own souls, and the souls of their ancestors 
and posterity, so many masses were to be said, and forfeitures were to 
follow upon their not being said: thus the masses were really the price 
of the lands."— On Article XXIL, pp. 303, 304. 

F . 

66 Masses. 

The truth of these representations cannot be better shown 
than by extracting the following passage from the Session 
22 of the Council of Trent :— 

" Whereas many things appear to have crept in heretofore, whether 
by the fault of the times or by the neglect and wickedness of men, 
foreign to the dignity of so great a sacrifice, in order that it may 
regain its due honour and observance, to the glory of God and the 
edification of His faithful people, the Holy Council decrees, that the 
bishops, ordinaries of each place, diligently take care and be bound, 
to forbid and put an end to all those things, which either avarice, 
which is idolatry, or irreverence, which is scarcely separable from 
impiety, or superstition, the pretence of true piety, has introduced. 
And, to say much in a few words, first of all, as to avarice, let them 
altogether forbid agreements, and bargains of payment of whatever 
kind, and whatever is given for celebrating new masses ; moreover im- 
portunate and mean extortion, rather than petition of alms, and such 
like practices, which border on simoniacal sin, certainly on filthy 
lucre. . . . And let them banish from the church those musical 
practices, when with the organ or with the chant any thing lascivious or 
impure is mingled; also all secular practices, vain and therefore 
profane conversations, promenadings, bustle, clamour; so that the 
house of God may truly seem and be called the house of prayer- 
Lastly, lest any opening be given to superstition, let them provide by 
edict and punishments appointed, that the priests celebrate it at no 
other than the due hours, nor use rites or ceremonies and prayers in 
the celebration of masses, other than those which have been approved 
by the Church, and received on frequent and laudable use. And let 
them altogether remove from the Church a set number of certain 
masses and candles, which has proceeded rather from superstitious 
observance than from true religion, and teach the people in what 
consists, and from whom, above all, proceeds the so precious and 
heavenly fruit of this most holy sacrifice. And let them admonish 
the same people to come frequently to their parish Churches, at least 
on Sundays and the greater feasts," 8cc. 

On the whole, then, it is conceived that the Article before 
us neither speaks against the Mass in itself, nor against its 
being [an offering, though commemorative,] ' for the quick 
and the dead for the remission of sin ; [(especially since 
the decree of Trent says, that "the fruits of the liloody 
Oblation are through this most abundantly obtained ; so far 

* " An offering for the quick, &c." — Mrtt Edition. 

Marriage of Clergy. 67 

is the latter from detracting in any way from the former ;"")] 
but against its being viewed, on the one hand, as inde- 
pendent of or distinct from the Sacrifice on the Cross, which 
is blasphemy ; and, on the other, its being directed to the 
emolument of those to whom it pertains to celebrate it, 
which is imposture in addition. 

§ 10. — Marriage of Clergy. 

Article xxxii. — " Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not 
commanded by God's law, either to vow the estate of single 
life, or to abstain from marriage.^' 

There is literally no subject for controversy in these 
words, since even the most determined advocates of the 
celibacy of the clergy admit their truth. [As far as clerical 
celibacy is a duty, it] is grounded not on God's law, but on 
the Church's rule, or on vow. No one, for instance, can 
question the vehement zeal of St. Jerome in behalf of this 
observance, yet he makes the following admission in his 
attack upon Jovinian : — 

" Jovinian says, ' You speak in vain, since the Apostle appointed 
Bishops, and Presbyters, and Deacons, the husbands of one wife, and 
having children.' But, as the Apostle says, that he has not a precept 
concerning virgins, yet gives a counsel, as having received mercy of 
the Lord, and urges throughout that discourse a preference of virginity 
to marriage, and advises what he does not command, lest he seem to 
cast a snare, and to impose a burden too great for man's nature; so 
also, in ecclesiastical order, seeing that an infant Church was then 
forming out of the Gentiles, he gives the lighter precepts to recent 
converts, lest they should fail under them through fear." — Adv. 
Jovinian, i. 34. 

And the Council of Trent merely lays down : — 

" If any shall say that clerks in holy orders, or regulars, who have 
solemnly professed chastity, can contract matrimony, and that the 
contract is valid in spite of ecclesiastical law or vow, let him be 
anathema." — Sess. 24, Can. 9. 

¥ 2 

68 Marriage of Clergy. 

Here the observance is placed simply upon rule of the 
Church or upon vow, neither of which exists in the English 
Church ; " therefore^'''' as the Article logically proceeds, " it 
is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry 
at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve 
better to godliness."''' Our Church leaves the discretion with 
the clergy ; and most persons will allow that, under our cir- 
cumstances, she acts wisely in doing so. That she has poicer, 
did she so choose, to take from them this discretion, and to 
oblige them either to marriage [(as is said to be the case as 
regards the parish priests of the Greek Church)] or to 
celibacy, would seem to be involved in the doctrine of the 
following extract from the Homilies; though, whether an 
enforcement either of the one or the other rule would be 
expedient and pious, is another matter. Speaking of fasting, 
the Homily says : — 

" God's Church ought not, neither may it be so tied to that or any 
other order now made, or hereafter to be made and devised by the 
authority of man, but that it may lawfully, for just causes, alter, change, 
or mitigate those ecclesiastical decrees and orders, yea, recede wholly 
from them, and break them, when they tend either to superstition or to 
impiety ; when they draw the people from God rather than work any 
edification in them. This authority Christ Himself used, and left it 
to His Church. He used it, I say, for the order or decree made by the 
elders for washing ofttimes, which was diligently observed of the Jews ; 
yet tending to superstition, our Saviour Christ altered and changed 
the same in His Church into a profitable sacrament, the sacrament of 
our regeneration, or new birth. This authority to mitigate laws and 
decrees ecclesiastical, the Apostles practised, when they, writing from 
Jerusalem unto the congregation that was at Antioch, signified unto 
them, that they would not lay any further burden upon them, but 
these necessaries : that is, * that they should abstain from things offered 
unto idols, from blood, from that which is strangled, and from forni- 
cation ;' notwithstanding that Moses's law required many other ob- 
servances. This authority to change the ordei's, degrees, and consti- 
tutions of the Church, was, after the Apostles' time, used of the fathers 
about the manner of fasting, as it appeareth in the Tripartite History. 
.... Thus ye have heard, good people, first, that Christian subjects 
are bound even in conscience to obey princes' laws, which aie not re- 
pugnant to the laws of God. Ye have also hef\rd that Christ's Church 
is not so bound to observe any order, law, or decree made by man, to 

The Homilies. 69 

prescribe a form in religion, but that the Church hath full power and 
authority from God to change and alter the same, when need shall 
require; which hath been shewed you by the example of our Saviour 
Christ, by the practice of the Apostles, and of the Fathers since that 
time," — Homily on Fasting, pp. 242 — 244. 

To the same effect the 34th Article declares, that, 

" It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places 
one, and utterly like ; for at all times they have been divers, and may 
be changed according to diversities of countries, times, and men's man- 
ners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, 
through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break 
the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant 
to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by commpQ au- 
thority, ought to be rebuked openly." — Article XXXIV". 

§11. — The Homilies. 

Art. XXXV. — " The Second Book of Homilies doth con- 
tain a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these 
times, as doth the former Book of Homilies." 

This Article has been treated of in No. 82 of these 
Tracts, in the course of an answer given to an opponent, 
who accused its author of not fairly receiving the Homilies, 
because he dissented from their doctrine, that the Bishop 
of Rome is Antichrist, and that regeneration was vouchsafed 
under the law. The passage of the Tract shall here be in- 
serted, with some abridgment. 

" I say plainly, then, I have not subscribed the Homilies, 
nor was it ever intended that any member of the English 
Church should be subjected to what, if considered as an ex- 
tended confession, would indeed be a yoke of bondage. 
Romanism surely is innocent, compared with that system 
which should impose upon the conscience a thick octavo 
volume, written flowingly and freely by fallible men, to be 
received exactly, sentence by sentence : I cannot conceive 
any grosser instance of a pharisaical tradition than this 

70 The Homilies. 

would be. No : such a proceeding would render it impos- 
sible (I would say), for any one member, lay or clerical, of 
the Church to remain in it, who was subjected to such an 
ordeal. For instance ; I do not suppose that any reader 
would be satisfied with the political reasons for fasting, 
though indirectly introduced, yet fully admitted and dwelt 
upon in the Homily on that subject. He would not like to 
subscribe the declaration that eating fish was a duty, not 
only as being a kind of fasting, but as making provisions 
cheap, and encouraging the fisheries. He would not like 
the association of religion with earthly politics. 

" How, then, are we bound to the Homilies ? By the 
Thirty-fifth Article, which speaks as follows : — ' The second 
Book of Homilies . . . doth contain a godly and wholesome 
doctrine^ and necessary for these times, as doth the former 
Booh of Homilies.'' Now, observe, this Article does not 
speak of every statement made in them, but of the ' doc- 
trine.'' It speaks of the view or cast or hody of doctrine 
contained in them. In spite of ten thousand incidental 
propositions, as in any large book, there is, it is obvious, a 
certain line of doctrine, which may be contemplated con- 
tinuously in its shape and direction. For instance ; if you 
say you disapprove the doctrine contained in the Tracts for 
the Times, no one supposes you to mean that every sentence 
and half sentence is a lie. I say then, that in like manner, 
when the Article speaks of the doctrine of the Homilies, it 
does not measure the letter of them by the inch, it does not 
imply that they contain no propositions which admit of two 
opinions ; but it speaks of a certain determinate line of 
doctrine, and moreover adds, it is ' necessary for these times.'' 
Does not this, too, show the same thing ? If a man said, 
the Tracts for the Times are seasonable at this moment, as 
their title signifies, would he not speak of them as taking a 
certain line, and bearing in a certain way ? Would he not 
be speaking, not of phrases or sentences, but of a ' doctrine' 
in them tending one way, viewed as a whole ? Would he be 
inconsistent, if after praising them as seasonable, he con- 
tinued, ' yet I do not pledge myself to every view or senti- 

The Homilies. 71 

ment ; there are some things in them hard of digestion, or 
overstated, or doubtful, or subtle V 

" If any thing could add to the irrelevancy of the charge 
in question, it is the particular point in which it is urged 
that I dissent from the Homilies, — a question concerning 
the fulfilment of prophecy ; viz. whether Papal Rome is 
Antichrist ? An iron yoke indeed you would forge for the 
conscience, when you oblige us to assent, not only to all 
matters of doctrine which the Homilies contain, but even to 
their opinion concerning the fulfilment of prophecy. Why, 
we do not ascribe authority in such matters even to the 
unanimous consent of all the fathers. 

" I will put what I have been saying in a second point of 
view. The Homilies are subsidiary to the Articles ; there- 
fore they are of authority so far as they hring out the sense 
of the Articles, and are not of authority where they do not. 
For instance, they say that David, though unbaptized, was 
regenerated, as you have quoted. This statement cannot 
be of authority, because it not only does not agree, but it 
even disagrees, with the ninth Article, which translates the 
Latin word ' renatis ' by the English ' baptized.' But, ob- 
serve, if this mode of viewing the Homilies be taken, as it 
fairly may, you suffer from it ; for the Apocrypha, being the 
subject of an Article, the comment furnished in the Homily 
is binding on you, whereas you reject it. 

" A further remark will bring us to the same point. 
Another test of acquiescence in the doctrine of the. Ho- 
milies is this : — Take their table of contents ; examine the 
headings; these surely, taken together, will give the sub- 
stance of their teaching. Now I hold fully and heartily the 
doctrine of the Homilies, under every one of these headings : 
the only points to which I should not accede, nor thinjc 
myself called upon to accede, would be certain matters, sub- 
ordinate to the doctrines to which the headings refer — 
matters not of doctrine, but of opinion, as, that Rome is 
the Antichrist ; or of historical fact, as, that there was a 
Pope Joan. But now, on the other hand, can you subscribe 
the doctrine of the Homilies under every one of its foniial 

72 The Homilies. 

headings ? I believe you cannot. The Homily against Dis- 
obedience and Wilful Rebellion is, in many of its elementary 
principles, decidedly uncongenial with your sentiments." 

This illustration of the subject may be thought enough ; 
yet it may be allowable to add from the Homilies a number 
of propositions and statements of more or less importance, 
which are too much forgotten at this day, and are decidedly 
opposed to the views of certain schools of religion, which at 
the present moment are so eager in claiming the Homilies 
to themselves. This is not done, as the extract already 
read will show, with the intention of maintaining that they 
are one and all binding on the conscience of those who sub- 
scribe the Thirty-fifth Article ; but since the strong lan- 
guage of the Homilies against the Bishop of Rome is often 
quoted, as if it were thus proved to be the doctrine of our 
Church, it may be as well to show that, following the same 
rule, we shall be also introducing Catholic doctrines, which 
indeed it far more belongs to a Church to profess than a 
certain view of prophecy, but which do not approve them- 
selves to those who hold it. For instance, we read as 
follows: — 

1. " The great clerk and godly preacher, St. John Chry- 
sostom."" — 1 B. i. 1. And, in like manner, mention is made 
elsewhere of St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Hilary, St. 
Basil, St. Cyprian, St. Hierome, St. Martin, Origen, Pros- 
per, Ecumenius, Photius, Bernardus, Anselm, Didymus, 
Theophylactus, Tertullian, Athanasius, Lactantius, Cyrillus, 
Epiphanius, Gregory, Irenseus, Clemens, Rabanus, Isidorus, 
Eusebius, Justinus Martyr, Optatus, Eusebius Emissenus, 
and Bede. 

2. " Infants, being baptized, and dying in their infancy, 
^re by this Sacrifice washed from their sins . . . and they, 
which in act or deed do sin after this baptism, when they 
turn to God unfeignedly, they are likewise washed by this 
Sacrifice," &c. — 1 B. iii. 1. init. ■ 

3. " Our office is, not to pass the time of this present 
life unfruitfully and idly, after that we are baptized or jus- 
tified;'' &c.— 1 B. iii. 3. 

The Ilomilies. 73 

4. " By holy promises, we be made lively members of 
Christ, receiving the sacrament of Baptism. By like holy 
promises the sacrament of Matrimony knitteth man and wife 
in perpetual love." — 1 B. vii. 1. 

5. " Let us learn also here [in the Book of Wisdom] 
by the infallible and undeceivable Word of Gob, that," &c. 
—1 B. X. 1. 

6. " The due receiving of His blessed Body and Blood, 
under the form of bread and wine." — Note at end ofB. i. 

7. '' In the Primitive Church, which was most holy and 
godly . . . open offenders were not suffered once to enter 
into the house of the Lord , . . until they had done open 
penance . . . but this was practised, not only upon mean 
persons, but also upon the rich, noble, and mighty persons, 
yea, upon Theodosius, that puissant and mighty Emperor^ 
whom ... St. Ambrose . . . did . . . excommunicate." — 
2 B. i. 2. 

8. " Open offenders were not . . . admitted to common 
prayer, and the use of the holy sacraments.'''' — Ibid. 

9. " Let us amend this our negligence and contempt in 
coming to the house of the Lord ; and resorting thither 
diligently together, let us there . . . celebrating also reve- 
rently the Lord's holy sacraments, serve the Lord in His 
holy house." — Ibid. 5. 

10. " Contrary to the . . . most manifest doctrine of the 
Scriptures, and contrary to the usages of the Primitive 
Church, which was most pure and uncorriipt, and contrary 
to the sentences and judgments of the most ancient. Teamed, 
and godly doctors of the Church." — 2 B. ii. 1. init. 

11. " This truth . . . was believed and taught by the old 
holy fathers, and most ancient learned doctors, and received 
by the old Primitive Church, which was most uncorrupt and 
pure^^ — 2 B. ii. 2. init. 

1 2. " Athanasius, a very ancient, holy, and learned bishop 
and doctor." — Ibid. 

13. " Cyrillus, an old and holy doctor." — Ibid. 

14. " Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamine, in Cyprus, a very 
holy and learned man." — Ibid. 

74 The Homilies. 


15. " To whose (Epiphanius's) judgment you have . . . 
all the learned and godly bishops and clerks, yea, and the 
whole Church of that age," [the Nicene] "and so upward 
to our Saviour Christ's time, by the space of about four 
hundred years, consenting and agreeing."" — Ibid, 

16. " Epiphanius, a bishop and doctor of such antiquity, 
holiness, and authority." — Ibid. 

17. " St. Augustine, the best learned of all ancient doc- 
tors."" — Ibid. 

18. " That ye may know why and when, and by whom 
images were first used privately, and afterwards not only 
received into Christian churches and temples, but, in con- 
clusion, worshipped also ; and how the same was gainsaid, 
resisted, and forbidden, as well by godl^ bishops and learned 
doctors., as also by sundry Christian princes, I will briefly 
collect,"" &c. [The bishops and doctors which follow are :] 
" St. Jerome, Serenus, Gregory, the Fathers of the Council 
of Eliberis." 

19. " Constantino, Bishop of Rome, assembled a Council 
of bishops of the West, and did condemn Philippicus, the 
Emperor, and John, Bishop of Constantinople, of the heresi/ 
of the Blonothelites, not without a cause indeed, but very 
justly.'''' — Ibid. 

20. " Those six Councils, which were allowed and received 
of all men.''"' — Ibid. 

21 . " There were no images publicly by the space of 
almost seven hundred years. And there is no doubt but the 
Primitive Church, next the Apostles'" times, was most pure.''"' 

22. " Let us beseech God that we, being learned by His 
holy Word ... and by the writings of old godly doctors and 
ecclesiastical histories,"" &c. — Ibid. 

23. " It shall be declared, both by God's Word, and the 
sentences of the ancient doctors, and judgment of the Pri- 
mitive Church," &c.— 2 B. ii. 3. 

24. " Saints, whose souls reign in joy with God."" — Ibid. . 

25. " That the law of God is likewise to be understood 
against all our images . . . appeareth further by the judg- 

The Homilies. 75 

ment of the old doctors and the Primitive Church." — 

26. " The Primitive Church, which is specially to be fol- 
lowed, as most incorrupt and pure." — Ibid. 

27. " Thus it is declared by God's Word, the sentences 
of the doctors, and the Judgment of the Primitive Church." 

28. " The rude people, who specially, as the Scripture 
teacheth, are in danger of superstition and idolatry ; viz. 
Wisdom xiii. xiv." — Ibid. 

29. " They [the ' learned and holy bishops and doctors of 
the Church "■ of the eight first centuries] were the preaching 
bishops .... And as they were most zealous and diligent, 
so were they of excellent learning and godliness of life, 
and by both of great authority and credit with the people." 

SO. " The most virtuous and best learned, the most dili- 
•^ent also, and in number almost infinite, ancient fathers, 
bishops, and doctors . . . could do nothing against images 
md idolatry." — Ibid. 

31. "As the Word of God testifieth, Wisdom xiv."— 

82. " The saints, now reigning in heaven with God." — 

33. " The fountain of our regeneration is there [in God''s 
house] presented unto us." — 2 B. iii. 

36. " Somewhat shall now be spoken of one particular 
aood work, whose commendation is both in the law and in 
the Gospel [fasting] ."—2 B. iv. 1. 

37. " If any man shall say ... we are not now under the 
yoke of the law, we are set at liberty by the freedom of the 
Oospel ; therefore these rites and customs of the old law 
bind not us, except it can be showed by the Scriptures of 
the New Testament, or by examples out of the same, that 
fasting, now under the Gospel, is a restraint of meat, drink, 
and all bodily food and pleasures from the body, as before : 
first, that we ought to fast, is a truth more manifest, then it 
should here need to be proved . . . Fasting, even by Christ's 

76 The Homilies. 

assent, is a withholding meat, drink, and all natural food 
from the body," &c. — Ihid. 

38. " That it [fasting] was used in the Primitive Church, 
appeareth most evidently by the Ohalcedon council, one of 
the first four general councils. The fathers assembled there 
.... decreed in that council that every person, as well in 
his private as public fast, should continue all the day with- 
out meat and drink, till after the evening prayer This 

Canon teacheth how fasting was used in the Primitive 
Church." — Ihid. [The Council was a.d, 452,] 

39. " Fasting then, by the decree of those 630 fathers, 
grounding their determinations in this matter upon the 
sacred Scriptures ... is a withholding of meat, drink, and 
all natural food from the body, for the determined time of 
fasting." — Ihid. 

40. " The order or decree made by the elders for washing 
ofttimes, tending to superstition, our Saviour Christ 
altered and changed the same in His Church, into a profit- 
able sacrament, the sacrament of our regeneration or new 
hirth.''—2 B. iv. 2. 

41. " Fasting thus used with prayer is of great efficacy 
and weigheth much with God, so the angel Raphael told 
Tobias."— /5iU 

42. " As he " [St. Augustine] " witnesseth in another 
place, the martyrs and holy men in times past were wont 
after their death to be rememhered and named of the priest 
at divine service ; but never to be invocated or called upon." 
—2 B. vii. 2. 

43. " Thus you see that the authority hoth of Scripture 
and also of Augustine, doth not permit that we should pray 
to them." — Ihid. 

44. " To temples have the Christians custoraably used to 
resort from time to time as to most meet places, where 
they might . . . receive His \\o\y sacraments ministered unto 
them duly and purely." — 2 B. viii. 1 . 

45. " The which thing both Christ and His apostles, 
with all the rest of the holy fathers^ do sufficiently declare 
so.''— Ihid. 

The Homilies. 77 

46. " Our godly predecessors^ and the ancient fathers of 
the Primitive Church, spared not their goods to build 
churches." — Ihid. 

47. " If we will show ourselves true Christians, if we will 
be followers of Christ our Master, and of those godly 
fathers that have lived before us, and now have received the 
reward of true and faithful Christians," &;c. — Ibid. 

48. " We must . . . come unto the material churches and 
temples to pray . . . whereby we may reconcile ourselves to 
God, be partakers of His \\o\y sacraments^ and be devout 
hearers of His holy Word," &c. — Ihid. 

49. " It [ordination] lacks the promise of remission of 
sin, as all other sacraments besides the two above named 
do. Therefore neither it, nor any other sacrament else, be 
such sacraments as Baptism and the Communion are." — 
2 Horn. ix. 

50. " Thus we are taught, both by the Scriptures and 
ancient doctors, that," &c. — Ihid. 

61. " The holy apostles and disciples of Christ . . . the 
godly fathers also, that were both hefore and since Christ, 
endued without doubt with the Holy Ghost, . . . they both 
do most earnestly exhort us, &;c. . . . that we should re- 
member the poor ... St. Paul crieth unto us after this 
sort .... Isaiah the Prophet teacheth us on this wise . . . 
And the holy father Tobit giveth this counsel. And the 
learned and godly doctor Chrysostom giveth this admonition. 
.... But what mean these often admonitions and earnest 
exhortations of the prophets, apostles, fathers, and holy 
doctors?"— 2 B. xi. 1. 

.52. " The holy fathers. Job and Tohit:'— Ibid. 

53. " Christ, whose especial favour we may be assured 
by this means to obtain,'''' [viz. by almsgiving] — 2 B. xi. 2. 

54. " Now will I . . . show unto you how proftahh it is 
for us to exercise them [alms-deeds] . . . [Christ's saying] 
serveth to . . . prick us forwards ... to learn . . . hoio we 
may recover our health, if it be lost or impaired, and how it 
may be defended and maintained if we have it. Y^, He 
teacheth us also therefore to esteem that as a precious me- 

78 The Homilies. 

dicine and an inestimable jewel., that hath such strength and 
virtue in it, that can either procure or preserve so incom- 
parable a treasure."" — Ibid. 

65. *' Then He and His disciples were grievously accused 
of the Pharisees, . . . because they went to meat and washed 
not their hands before, . . . Christ, answering their super- 
stitious complaint, teacheth them an especial remedy how to 
keep clean their souls, . . . Give alms," &c. — Ibid. 

5Q. " Merciful alms-dealing \s profitable to purge the soul 
from the infection and filthy spots of sin.'''' — Ibid. 

57. " The same lesson doth the Holy Ghost teach in 
sundry places of the Scripture, saying, ' Mercifulness and 
alms-giving,' &c. [Tobit iv.] . . . The wise preacher, the son 
of Sirach, confirmeth the same, when he says, that 'as 
water quencheth burning fire,' " &c. — Ibid. 

58. " A great confidence may they have before the high 
-God, that show mercy and compassion to them that are 
afflicted."— /izW. 

59. " If ye have by any infirmity or weakness been 
touched or annoyed with them . . . straightway shall mer- 
cifulness wipe and wash them away, as salves and remedies 
to heal their sores and grievous diseases.'''' — Ibid. 

60. " And therefore that holy father Cyprian admonisheth 
to consider how wholesome and profitable it is to relieve the 
needy, &c. ... by the which we may purge our sins and heal 
our wounded souls.''" — Ibid. 

61. " We be therefore washed in our baptism from the 
filthiness of sin, that we should live afterwards in the pure- 
ness of life." — 2 B. xiii. 1 . 

62. " By these means [by love, compassion, &c.] shall 
we move God to be merciful to our sins."" — Ibid. 

63. " * He was dead,' saith St. Paul, ' for our sins, and 
rose again for o\xv justification'' . . . He died to destroy the 
rule of the devil in us, and He rose again to send down His 
Holy Spirit to rule in our hearts, to [endow] ys with per- 
fect righteousness."" — '2, B. xiv. 

64). " The ancient Catholic fathers,"" [in marg.] Irenaeus, 
Ignatius, Dionysius, Origen, Optatus, Cyprian, Athanasius, 

The Homilies. 79 

. . . . " were not afraid to call this supper, some of them, 
the salve of immortality and sovereign preservative against 
death ; other, the sweet dainties of our Saviour, the pledge 
of eternal health, the defence of faith, the hope of the re- 
surrection ; other, the food of immortality^ the healthful 
grace, and the conservatory to everlasting life." — 2 B. xv. 1. 

65. " The meat we seek in this supper is spiritual food, 
the nourishment of our soul, a heavenly refection, and not 
earthly; an invisible meat, and not bodily; a ghostly sub- 
stance, and not carnal,"''' — Ibid. 

66. " Take this lesson ... of Emissenus, a godly father, 
that . . . thou loo^ up with faith upon the holy body and 
blood of thy God, thou marvel with reverence, thou touch it 
with thy mind, thou receive it with the hand of thy heart, 
and thou take it fully with thy inward man." — Ibid. 

67. " The saying of the holy martyr of God, St. Cyprian."" 
~2 B. XX. 3. 

Thus we see the authority of the fathers, of the first six 
councils, and of the judgments of the Church generally, the 
holiness of the Primitive Church, the inspiration of the 
Apocrypha, the sacramental character of Marriage and 
other ordinances, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the 
Church"'s power of excommunicating kings, the profitable- 
ness of fasting, the propitiatory virtue of good works, the 
Eucharistic commemoration, and justification by a righteous- 
ness [within us] ', are taught in the Homilies. Let it be 
said again, it is not here asserted that a subscription to all 
and every of these quotations is involved in the subscription 
of an Article which does but generally approve the Ho- 
milies : but they who insist so strongly on our Church"'s 
holding that the Bishop of Rome is Antichrist because the 
Homilies declare it, should recollect that there are other 
doctrines contained in them beside it, which they [them- 
selves] should be understood to hold, before their argument 
has the force of consistency. 

* " By inherent righteousness." JRrst Edition. 


§ 12.— The Bishop of Borne. 

Article xxxviii. — " The Bishop of Rome hath no juris- 
diction in this realm of England." 

By "hath" is meant "ought to have," as the Article in 
the 36th Canon and the Oath of Supremacy show, in which 
the same doctrine is drawn out more at length. "No 
foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or 
ought to ham, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre- 
eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within 
this realm." 

This is the profession which every one must in consistency 
make, who does not join the Roman Church. If the Bishop 
of Rome has jurisdiction and authority here, why do we not 
acknowledge it, and submit to him ? To say then the above 
words, is nothing more or less than to say " I am not a 
Roman Catholic ;" and whatever reasons there are against 
saying them, are so far reasons against remaining in the 
English Church. They are a mere enunciation of the 
principle of Anglicanism. 

Anglicans maintain that the supremacy of the Pope is 
not directly from revelation, but an event in Providence. 
All things may be undone by the agents and causes by 
which they are done. What revelation gives, revelation 
takes away ; what Providence gives. Providence takes away. 
God ordained by miracle, He reversed by miracle, the 
Jewish election ; He promoted in the way of Providence, 
and He cast down by the same way, the Roman empire. 
" The powers that be, are ordained of God," while they be, 
and have a claim on our obedience. When they cease to 
be, they cease to have a claim. They cease to be, when 
God removes them. He may be considered to remove them 
when He undoes what He had done. The Jewish election 
did not cease to be, when the Jews went into captivity: 
this was an event in Providence; and what miracle had 
ordained, it was miracle that annulled. But the Roman 

The Bishop of Rome. 81 

power ceased to be when the barbarians overthrew it ; for 
it rose by the sword, and it therefore perished by the sword. 
The Gospel Ministry began in Christ and His Apostles; 
and what they began, they only can end. The Papacy 
began in the exertions and passions of man ; and what man 
can make, man can destroy. Its jurisdiction, while it lasted, 
was "ordained of God;" when it ceased to be, it ceased to 
claim our obedience ; and it ceased to be at the Reforma- 
tion. The Reformers, who could not destroy a Ministry, 
which the Apostles began, could destroy a Dominion which 
the Popes founded. 

Perhaps the following passage will throw additional light 
upon this point: — 

" The Anglican view of the Church has ever been this : 
that its portions need not otherwise have been united to- 
gether for their essential completeness, than as being 
descended from one original. They are like a number of 

colonies sent out from a mother-country Each Church 

is independent of all the rest, and is to act on the principle 
of what may be called Episcopal independence, except, in- 
deed, so far as the civil power unites any number of them 
together. . . . Each diocese is a perfect independent Church, 
sufficient for itself; and the communion of Christians one 
with another, and the unity of them altogether, lie, not in 
a mutual understanding, intercourse, and combination, not 
in what they do in common, but in what they are and have 
in common, in their possession of the Succession, their 
Episcopal form, their Apostolical faith, and the use of the 

Sacraments Mutual intercourse is but an accident of 

the Church, not of its essence Intercommunion is a 

duty, as other duties, but is not the tenure or instrument 
of the communion between the unseen world and this ; and 
much more the confederacy of sees and churches, the me- 
tropolitan, patriarchal, and papal systems, are matters of 
expedience or of natural duty from long custom, or of 
propriety from gratitude and reverence, or of necessity from 
voluntary oaths and engagements, or of ecclesiastical force 
from the canons of Councils, but not necessary in order to 


82 The Bishop of Rome. 

the conveyance of grace, or for fulfilment of the ceremonial 
law, as it may be called, of unity. Bishop is superior to 
bishop only in rank, not in real power ; and the Bishop of 
Rome, the head of the Catholic world, is not the centre of 
unity, except as having a primacy of order. Accordingly, 
even granting for argument's sake, that the English Church 
violated a duty in the 1 6th century, in releasing itself from 
the Roman supremacy, still it did not thereby commit that 
special sin, which cuts off from it the fountains of grace, 
and is called schism. It was essentially complete without 
Rome, and naturally independent of it ; it had, in the course 
of years, whether by usurpation or not, come under the 
supremacy of Rome ; and now, whether by rebellion or not, 
it is free from it : and as it did not enter into the Church 
invisible by joining Rome, so it was not cast out of it by 
breaking from Rome. These were accidents in its history, 
involving, indeed, sin in individuals, but not affecting the 
Church as a Church. 

" Accordingly, the Oath of Supremacy declares ' that no 
foreign prelate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, 
power, pre-eminence, or authority within this realm.' In 
other words, there is nothing in the Apostolic system which 
gives an authority to the Pope over the Church, such as it 
does not give to a Bishop. It is altogether an ecclesiastical 
arrangement ; not a point dejide, but of expedience, custom, 
or piety, which cannot be claimed as if the Pope ought to 
have it, any more than, on the other hand, the King could 
of Divine right claim the supremacy ; the claim of both one 
and the other resting, not on duty or revelation, but on 
specific engagement. We find ourselves, as a Church, 
under the King now, and we obey him ; we were under the 
Pope formerly, and we obeyed him. ' Ought ' does not, in 
any degree, come into the question." 



One remark may be made in conclusion. It may be 
objected that the tenor of the above explanations is anti- 
Protestant, whereas it is notorious that the Articles were 
drawn up by Protestants, and intended for the establish- 
ment of Protestantism ; accordingly, that it is an evasion 
of their meaning to give them any other than a Protestant 
drift, possible as it may be to do so grammatically, or in 
each separate part. 

But the answer is simple : 

1. In the first place, it is a duty which we owe both to 
the Catholic Church and to our own, to take our reformed 
confessions in the most Catholic sense they will admit ; we 
have no duties toward their framers. [Nor do we receive 
the Articles from their original framers, but from several 
successive convocations after their time ; in the last instance, 
from that of 1 662.] 

2. In giving the Articles a Catholic interpretation, wc 
bring them into harmony with the Book of Common Prayer, 
an object of the most serious moment in those who have 
given their assent to both formularies. 

3. Whatever be the authority of the [Declaration] pre- 
fixed to the Articles, so far as it has any weight at all, it 
sanctions the mode of interpreting them above given. For 
its enjoining the "literal and grammatical sense," relieves 
us from the necessity of making the known opinions of their 
framers, a comment upon their text ; and its forbidding 
any person to " affix any new sense to any Article," was 
promulgated at a time when the leading men of our Church 
were especially noted for those CathoUc views which have 
been here advocated. 

4. It may be remarked, moreover, that such an interpre- 
tation is in accordance with the well-known general leaning 
of Melanchthon, from whose writings our Articles are prin- 

G 2 

84 Conclusion. 

cipally drawn, and whose Catholic tendencies gained for 
him that same reproach of popery, which has ever been 
so freely bestowed upon members of our own reformed 

" Melanchthon was of opinion," says Mosheim, "that, for the sake 
of peace and concord, many things might be given up and tolerated in 
the Church of Rome, which Luther considered could by no means be 
endured. ... In the class of matters indiflferent, this great man and 
his associates placed many things which had appeared of the highest 
importance to Luther, and could not of consequence be considered as 
indifferent by his true disciples. For he regarded as such, the doc- 
trine of justification by faith alone ; the necessity of good works to 
eternal salvation ; the number of the sacraments ; the jurisdiction 
claimed by the Pope and the Bishops ; extreme unction ; the observa- 
tion of certain religious festivals, and several superstitious rites and 
ceremonies."— Ce««. XVL § 3, part 2. 27, 28. 

5. Further: the Articles are evidently framed on the 
principle of leaving open large questions, on which the con- 
troversy hinges. They state broadly extreme truths, and 
are silent about their adjustment. For instance, they say 
that all necessary faith must be proved from Scripture, but 
do not say who is to prove it. They say that the Church 
has authority in controversies, they do not say what autho- 
rity. They say that it may enforce nothing beyond Scrip- 
ture, but do not say where the remedy lies when it does. 
They say that works before grace and justification are 
worthless and worse, and that works after grace and justi- 
fication are acceptable, but they do not speak at all of 
works tcith God\s aid, before justification. They say that 
men are lawfully called and sent to minister and preach, 
who are chosen and called by men who have public autho- 
rity given them in the congregation to call and send ; but 
they do not add by whom the authority is to be given. 
They say that councils called by princes may err ; they do 
not determine whether councils called in the natne of Christ 
will err. 

[6. The variety of doctrinal views contained in the 

Conclusion. 85 

Homilies, as above shown, views which cannot be brought 
under Protestantism itself, in its widest comprehension of 
opinions, is an additional proof, considering the connexion 
of the Articles with the Homilies, that the Articles are 
not framed on the principle of excluding those who prefer 
the theology of the early ages to that of the Reformation ; 
or rather since both Homilies and Articles appeal to 
the Fathers and Catholic antiquity, let it be considered 
whether, in interpreting them by these, we are not going 
to the very authority to which they profess to submit 

7. Lastly, their framers constructed them in such a way 
as best to comprehend those who did not go so far in Pro- 
testantism as themselves. Anglo-Catholics then are but the 
successors and representatives of those moderate reformers ; 
and their case has been directly anticipated in the wording 
of the Articles. It follows that they are not perverting, 
they are using them, for an express purpose for which 
among others their authors framed them. The interpre- 
tation they take was intended to be admissible ; though not 
that which their authors took themselves. Had it not been 
provided for, possibly the Articles never would have been 
accepted by our Church at all. If, then, their framers have 
gained their side of the compact in effecting the reception 
of the Articles, the Catholics have theirs too in retaining 
their own Catholic interpretation of them.- 

An illustration of this occurs in the history of the 28th 
Article. In the beginning of Elizabeth's reign a paragraph 
formed part of it, much like that which is now appended to 
the Communion Service, but in which the Real Presence 
was denied in words. It was adopted by the clergy at the 
first convocation, but not published. Burnet observes on it 
thus : — 

" When these Articles were first prepared by the convocation in 
Queen Elizabeth's reign, this paragraph was made a part of them ; for 
the original subscription by both houses of convocation, yet extant, 
shows this. But the design of the government was at that time much 

86 Conclusion. 

turned to the drawing over the body of the nation to the Reformation, in 
whom the old leaven had gone deep ; and no part of it deeper than 
the belief of the corporeal presence of Christ in the Sacrament; 
therefore it was thought not expedient to ojffend them by so particular a 
definition in this matter ; in which the very word Real Presence was 
rejected. It might, perhaps, be also suggested, that here a definition 
was made that went too much upon the principles of natural phi- 
losophj'; which, how true soever, they might not be the proper subject 
of an article of religion. Therefore it was thought fit to suppress this 
paragraph ; though it was a part of the Article that was subscribed, 
yet it was not published, but the paragraph that follows, * The Body 
of Christ,' &c., was put in its stead, and was received and published 
by the next convocation ; which upon the matter was a full explana- 
tion of the way of Christ's presence in this Sacrament; that ' He is 
present in a heavenly and spiritual manner, and that faith is the mean 
by which He is received.' This seemed to be more theological ; and 
it does indeed amount to the same thing. But howsoever we see what 
was the sense of the first convocation in Queen Elizabeth's reign, it 
diiFered in nothing from that in King Edward's time ; and therefore 
though this paragraph is now no part of our Articles, yet we are ' 
certain that the clergy at that time did not at all doubt of the truth of 
it ; we are sure it was their opinion ; since they subscribed it, though 
they did not think fit to publish it at first; and though it was after- 
wards changed for another, that was the same in sense." — Burnet on 
.^rftc/eXXVIII., p. 416. 

What lately has taken place in the political world will 
afford an illustration in point. A French minister, desirous 
of war, nevertheless, as a matter of policy, draws up his 
state papers in such moderate language, that his successor, 
who is for peace, can act up to them, without compromising 
his own principles. The world, observing this, has con- 
sidered it a circumstance for congratulation ; as if the 
former minister, who acted a double part, had been caught 
in his own snare. It is neither decorous, nor necessary, 
nor altogether fair, to urge the parallel rigidly ; but it will 
explain what it is here meant to convey. The Protestant 
Confession was drawn up with the purpose of including 
Catholics ; and Catholics now will not be excluded. What 
was an economy in the reformers, is a protection to us. 

Conclusion. 87 

What would have been a perplexity to us then, is a 
perplexity to Protestants now. We could not then have 
found fault with their words ; they cannot now repudiate 
our meaning. 

[J. H. N.] 


The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, 


Stereotyped Edition, reprinted (tcith the Author* s permission) 
from the Fourth Edition.